Archive for Wednesday, February 1, 2012

KU hopes energy audit will result in significant savings

February 1, 2012


Kansas University has mostly completed the work associated with a $25 million energy savings audit that began in 2009 and is now waiting to see how much energy the school will save as a result of the ventilation upgrades to Malott and Haworth halls and lighting upgrades made across campus.

In 2009, KU entered into a $25 million contract with Energy Solutions Professionals, of Overland Park, to conduct the audit and make initial upgrades that created energy-efficient savings. In addition to the ventilation work and lighting fixture upgrades in more than 40 campus buildings, some work was done to conserve water, too, said Doug Riat, director of facilities operations and planning at KU.

As part of the contract, the company is guaranteeing that KU will realize at least $2 million in energy savings from the audit. Riat said the university and ESP will soon discuss when to start tabulating the energy savings based on when the work is completely done.

The company is paid out of the initial $25 million cost and does not receive a portion of the savings, Riat said. The largest cost was for the improvements in Malott and Haworth, he said.

He said that while the improvements would be cheaper if KU did them without ESP’s assistance, the bonds used to pay for the improvements are only possible because of the company’s guarantee of a revenue source to pay them back.

“You’re paying an increased cost for a reduced risk,” Riat said.

Still, Riat said KU may incur extra expenses to maintain a much more sophisticated ventilation system and to have staffers with the technical expertise necessary to fix any issues that may arise.

Those expenses typically aren’t calculated into the energy savings that KU realizes from the improvements, he said.

The company is also assisting KU employees to make behavioral changes that will help save energy. The company is assisting KU’s Center for Sustainability in sponsoring an energy-saving contest among students, faculty and staff in three KU buildings that began Wednesday.

People working and studying in Bailey Hall, Green Hall and Summerfield Hall will be asked to sign a pledge to undertake several energy-conservation measures. Those include turning the lights out when they leave the office, unplugging items not in use, and replacing incandescent bulbs in desk and floor lamps with compact fluorescent bulbs.

Those who signed the pledge in each building will be eligible for prizes, and a barbecue lunch will be provided for those who signed the pledge in the building that saves the most energy.

“I think we would see 2 to 3 percent savings,” if all employees and students adopted the energy-saving measures, said Jeff Severin, director of KU’s sustainability center. “Maybe as much as 5.”

The behavioral measures are part of the contract with ESP.

The company conducts similar audits with businesses, too

“It’s a hot industry right now,” said Tim O’Kane, director of marketing for ESP. “We’ve seen growth every year for the past few years.”

KU undertook a similar project with Chevron Energy Solutions in 2001 that resulted in savings of about $900,000 per year.


Ragingbear 6 years, 4 months ago

For those that dismiss a 2-3% savings, consider the amount of money they already pay in energy cost. Then calculate 2.5%, then multiply that amount by 12. That is the amount of money saved per year.

Homes can benefit from an energy audit as well. Just be careful, as many places want to charge an insane fee for things you can do yourself. If you can pressurize your home (sometimes a windy day and the right open window can do the trick) you can test for leaks with a simple stick of incense. CFL's may be more efficient but contain a large amount of toxic mercury. While probably still a little ways off, look for LED bulbs. They are about 10 times as efficent as CFLs without the bitter after taste. They also last (literally) a hundred times longer.

LogicMan 6 years, 4 months ago

"a large amount of toxic mercury"

A tiny amount, just like all the other fluorescent and mercury vapor lights in your environment. Just be careful with them, and dispose of them properly. Home Depot takes burn out ones.

Ragingbear 6 years, 4 months ago

It's a large amount. Enough to be toxic to an infant. As in kill it. Roughly it would be the size of a standard BB pellet. That is a lot of mercury.

sad_lawrencian 6 years, 4 months ago

"KU hopes energy audit will result in significant savings"...Here's a bright idea: they could save $25,000,000.00 by not entering into contracts with consultants like ESP! Sometimes I really have to scratch my head.

KenGallagher 6 years, 4 months ago

Sad - Let me help you save some of the hair on your head from being scratched off.

Ideally it works like this; Enter into a contract to develop a project which saves X amount of dollars per year in annual energy cost. The $25m cost of that project can be financed through various methods such as traditional lenders, or through a program called PACE (added as a tax lien), and in some cases the contractor (eg) ESP will carry the project cost on their balance sheets and be paid for their services based on the savings which the property owner sees as a result of the project improvements. There are also special financial lending services emerging that are focusing in this area of expertise for financing such projects.

The objective is to get the building(s) quickly to cash-flow-positivity through this process. In most cases, the savings are so substantial that they are able to pay back the cost of the project quickly and are able to recognize a compelling savings impact that can reduce monthly expenditures as well as increase the asset value.

Just looking at the cost of the project can be deceiving. I thought that maybe the some knowledge on the desired output of such a project would help shed some light on the interest in generating such a project.


Commenting has been disabled for this item.