GV finds creative solutions to slash energy costs

With the lowest amount of State funding of the 15 public institutions in Michigan, GVSU has turned to advancing in energy technologies to help make ends meet.

The Demand Control Ventilation system, installed in the Padnos Hall of Science, initially cost the university $78,000, but has reduced energy costs by about $58,000 over a one-year period.

“The DCV is basically controlling the amount of conditioned air (heated or cooled) delivered to a space by a variable,” said Terry Pahl, university engineer for the facilities services department.

The engineers installed a system called Aircuity, which has multiple sensors that detect various items and monitors carbon dioxide and temperature in the building.

The university plans to install this system in a portion of the new Mary Idema Pew Library Learning and Information Commons, scheduled for completion in 2013.

GVSU won the Energy Project of the Year at the World Energy Engineers Conference in March, hosted by the Association of Energy Engineers.

“Our energy team does a great job of implementing these projects,” Pahl said. “We just don’t get time to publicize it.”

Over the past 12 years, GVSU has recorded spending a total of $1.8 million on energy cost reduction projects.

The annual cost reduction from these projects is now up to $1.4 million per year.

In addition, the university has recorded $1.3 million in one-time energy savings projects.

Recently, GVSU was awarded $52,000 from Consumer’s Energy for the university’s efforts to decrease energy use and to help further offset GVSU’s energy costs.

Pahl said the university will continue to keep requesting funds for energy savings projects in the future.

On the horizon, GVSU is nearing completion of an energy project at Pew Campus parking ramps, where university engineers have installed fluorescent lamps that are controlled by motion sensors.

The university has also replaced stairwell lighting with compact florescent lamps.

“The project is not yet completed and we’ve already noticed a 37 percent drop in energy use,” Pahl said.

In continued effort to cut down on energy costs, GVSU has been adjusting mixed air temperature set points, purchasing less expensive natural gas through market pricing rather than utility companies, installed new lighting, is changing out pneumatic controls and installing direct digital controls on heating and air conditioning equipment and building renovations such as insulation and new windows.

“In addition, we promote energy conservation by building LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) buildings, publishing sustainability reports, conducting energy contests and giving out promotions,” Pahl said.

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