Work being done today on the Kansas University campus is expected to result in an annual $2 million in energy savings later.
KU contracted with an Overland Park-based company, Energy Solutions Professionals, to perform $25 million in improvements to lighting, heating and cooling, ventilation and plumbing systems in 56 buildings across campus.
If the annual expected savings aren’t achieved, the company will pay KU the difference for 15 and a half years after the improvements are completed.
“This is a useful project for us in that it is a way for us to get some energy savings and some upgrades to buildings that really need it in a way that doesn’t impact the budget,” said Jeff Severin, director for KU’s Center for Sustainability.
These initiatives are the result of work and audits done over the past couple of years at KU, said Bob Miller, vice president of operations for Energy Solutions Professionals. His company works primarily with public entities such as cities, universities and school districts to help them realize cost savings through more effective energy use.
New swimming pool covers will be installed at Robinson Gymnasium, and other physical improvements will extend to laboratories in Malott and Haworth halls. There, fume hoods will be replaced, Miller said.
“Typically in years past, they would turn on the fan and just let as much air get sucked out as it can suck out of there,” he said.
New “smart” fume hoods can detect levels of unsafe chemicals in the air, and will be able to function more efficiently to take the air quality to safe levels.
Energy Solutions Professionals will also send a representative to campus to institute some behavioral changes — such as turning off lights and shutting down computers at night — expected to generate $200,000 in savings.
While the individual efforts may not amount to much, on a campus as big as KU, the specific behavior changes can make a major difference if adopted by enough people, Severin said.