The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Energy study recommendations may save Macalester hundreds of thousands

By Katie Zager

A building re-commissioning study conducted for Macalester last summer could end up saving the school a good chunk of money.The study examined 14 buildings on campus and provided a list of recommendations in order to improve energy efficiency on campus.

If all of the recommendations are implemented, the school could stand to save hundreds of thousands of dollars in just two years.

The school initially invested over $30,000 in the study, although much of this cost will be recouped through a rebate from Xcel energy. The study was contracted through the Facilities office and conducted by Edward H Cook & Associates, a mechanical engineering firm.

The firm studied 14 buildings on campus. Janet Wallace and newer or recently remodeled buildings, such as the Leonard Center, the IGC and Olin Rice were not included.

According to Mechanical systems manager Curt Stainbrook, the study came up with a list of “Energy Conservation Opportunities,” many of which are smaller projects around campus. Such recommendations include the installation of motion sensor lighting control, heating and fan efficiencies, such as re-using more indoor air, and an update of the main software used to operate the schools mechanical systems.

“It’s mostly behind the scenes stuff. Students might notice things like lighting, but in general, changes won’t be noticeable,” Steinbrook said.

Some recommendations, such as water conservation strategies are less likely to be implemented because the overall energy savings and return on investment are fairly low.

Facilities, Maintenance and the sustainability office are currently working together to decide which of the recommendations should be implemented. Full implementation could take up to three years, at a cost of $371,000 if all of the changes are implemented.

However, the costs of these energy conservation measures recoup their costs extremely quickly. The payback time for these projects is expected to be two years, based on actual energy savings and additional rebates from Xcel.

Stainbrook says that the biggest return will come from the campus center, a building that is only 10 years old. Much of this will come from increased energy efficiency in the kitchen.

“In some cases, it’s just getting the building to run the way it was designed to run,” said Stainbrook.

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