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Appalachian to spend $5.34 million on energy-saving measures

BOONE—Appalachian State University’s Board of Trustees today approved a plan to borrow $5.34 million to implement a variety of energy-saving measures across campus. The measures are expected to save at least $600,000 a year in energy costs. Those savings will be used to repay the loan within 12 years or less.

Jerry L. Marshall, Appalachian’s energy director, says many of the energy efficiency measures will showcase renewable and energy efficient technologies.

“Appalachian has the reputation of being a leader in green technology and we want to continue to exemplify that leadership,” Marshall said. “Part of this project will include all new LED lighting for both parking decks on campus. We also plan to install a 2,000-square-foot green roof on one of the buildings on campus. Moss and sedum variety vegetation installed on the roof will help replace carbon dioxide with oxygen and help clean the air. It also improves insulation, making it easier to keep a building cool in summer and warm in winter.” The roof project will be the first of its kind on campus.

The university hired Pepco Energy Services, which has offices in Raleigh, to analyze the university’s energy use and implement a variety of energy savings measures.

“Pepco established a baseline of the university’s energy use by installing monitoring devices in select buildings to monitor occupancy, light usage, equipment run times and how much energy was being used by equipment,” Marshall said.  “Next, they determined where energy waste was occurring.”

Pepco recommended equipment to replace or that would be more efficient if brought up to modern standards. “Then they determined how much energy would be saved if the changes were made. They guarantee that the changes will result in the predicted savings, and if not, they write us a check for the difference,” Marshall said.

“The contract with Pepco will allow us to save energy and also meet energy savings mandated by state law,” said Greg Lovins, interim vice chancellor for business affairs. “The savings from reduced utility costs will finance the loan. We see this as a win-win situation for the university. We get the benefit of new equipment and new technology at no cost to us.”

Appalachian looked at 39 energy conservation measures and selected 26 with the best energy savings compared to the cost to implement. Projects include replacing or improving some heating and air conditioning units on campus, installing efficient lighting in various campus buildings and installing a solar thermal water heating system for Varsity Gym. Lighting occupancy sensors and water conservation measures such as low flow aerators and low flow toilets will be installed in some buildings. An automated system will be installed in eight office and academic buildings on campus to adjust heat or air conditioning when they are unoccupied at night. Those include Farthing Auditorium, Harper Hall, Varsity Gym, Raley Hall and John Thomas Hall.

Marshall says future building construction on campus will incorporate more energy efficient measures than in the past. “Energy has been so cheap that there wasn’t an incentive to build with energy efficiency in mind,” Marshall said.

While not part of the energy performance contract, the new building for the college of education has been designed with energy efficiency in mind. The building will have a solar thermal water heating system, a partial green roof and energy efficient lighting, among other features.

Faculty, staff, students and others will be able to monitor the results of the work, which is expected to take about a year to complete, through a Web site that will monitor how much energy is being used in the buildings receiving energy efficiency measures. Those buildings are Farthing Auditorium, Raley Hall, Walker Hall, Varsity Gym, Harper Hall, John Thomas Hall, Holmes Convocation Center and the parking decks on campus.

In addition, the Web site will track the renewable energy produced by the wind turbine behind the Broyhill Inn and Conference Center, a solar water heating system on Plemmons Student Union and the photovoltaic arrays in front of Raley Hall, at Harper Hall and at the university’s biodiesel research facility – all projects funded by the student-fee based Renewable Energy Initiative.

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