by Ward Mullens, Published November 10, 2009
YPSILANTI — Having a window open when it’s 20 degrees outside used to be a regular occurrence for residents of Wise Hall. The problem was that there was only one thermostat on each floor. That made some rooms so hot that residents just opened the window to cool things off.
A partnership between Eastern Michigan University and Chevron Energy Solutions has changed that and a few other things on campus, helping improve energy efficiency at EMU and saving the University money in energy costs.
“We performed energy audits on our buildings and entered a partnership with Chevron Energy Solutions,” said Steven Moore, energy and sustainability manager at EMU. “We wanted to address the most pressing issues.”
While 16 buildings were part of the audit, priority was given to three areas with the most immediate needs. Those included Wise Hall, Brown-Munson Hall and the Dining Commons for Hill, Hoyt and Pittman Halls.
Wise Hall was the last residence hall on campus to use steam to heat the building. The old steam system was causing overheating in many spaces in Wise. Moore said that to combat that overheating, windows would be opened, even in very cold weather.
Wise Hall was converted to a hot water system that allowed thermostats to be placed in each room, giving students greater control of the climate.
Another pressing issue was the need for a new boiler plant for Dining Commons III, which affects Hill, Hoyt and Pittman Halls.
Moore said the condensate line was failing, forcing the dumping of thousands of gallons of heated water.
The new system, when completed in December, will be more efficient and should generate a savings of more than $300,000 a year for EMU.
The final project is ongoing and will result in the replacement of the 727 windows in Brown-Munson. The windows are 50 to 60 years old and well past their useful life, Moore said. The new windows will not only improve the look of the building, but will prevent air infiltration, thus reducing heat gain and loss. This project will save approximately $30,000 a year when completed next year.
The three projects cost approximately $6.9 million, but Moore said they will pay for themselves within 10 years.
“With projects like this, we have reduced EMU’s energy budget by $3 million in two years,” said Moore. “This is the first major step in our goal toward sustainability. It all adds up.”