NAU ready to conserve

2012-04-07T09:00:00Z NAU ready to conserveHILLARY DAVIS Sun Staff Reporter Arizona Daily Sun
April 07, 2012 9:00 am  • 

Northern Arizona University is set to invest $18 million in energy-conserving retrofits that are expected to pay for themselves out of lower utility bills.

The menu of retrofits covers lighting fixtures, toilets, faucets, insulation and more. The Arizona Board of Regents approved the campus-wide projects Friday at their meeting in Tucson.

About $6.3 million will be paid up front, drawn from the central fund and the residence life and dining services coffers -- the latter two of which are paid for with student rent and meal purchases. The balance will be funded with loans.

According to a summary of the proposal presented to the Regents, "(t)he project is completely self-funding. One hundred percent of all energy conservation measures are paid for by project generated savings."

The total project cost will not exceed $18 million.

The measures are expected to reduce energy and water usage by about 18 percent. This equates to a first-year utility savings of more than $1.5 million.

Projects include:

-- Interior lighting: Fixtures with 4-foot lamps will be retrofitted with 25-watt T8 lamps and high efficiency electronic ballasts. Fixtures with three or four lamps will be "delamped" where possible and reflectors will be installed. In all, 20 residence halls and 32 academic buildings will be affected.

-- Plumbing: Existing toilets will be replaced with "ultra low flush" toilets (1.28 gallons per flush). Bathroom faucets will be equipped with half-gallon-per-minute heads. Showers will be equipped with heads that consume 1.5 gallons per minute. Pre-rinse sprayers and garbage disposal restrictors will also be retrofitted in all commercial kitchen and labs. Plumbing will be swapped out at 22 dorms and 51 academic buildings.

-- Ice makers: Replace aging ice-maker condenser units at two dining facilities.

-- Heating, ventilation and air conditioning: New chillers, air conditioners and upgraded air handlers will be installed in eight academic buildings.

-- Meters: Utility meters will be added at the building level at 20 dorms and 32 academic buildings.

-- Direct digital controls (indoor air quality): For maintaining indoor temperatures and ventilation requirements. Installed at 17 dorms and 17 academic buildings, and re-commissioned at four academic buildings.

-- Insulation: Added to steam traps, valves and expansion joints in the tunnel system.

-- Attic insulation: Added or replaced at 10 dorms.

-- "Behavioral change program:" A campus-wide effort.

Energy services company NORESCO has already performed an audit to identify the potential for lower energy usage on campus. The company will next provide the conservation projects, equipment and technology over a two-year period. These improvements will be financed on a tax-exempt basis through a capital lease purchase agreement and will be paid back through energy savings over about 15 to 20 years, according to the summary proposal. If NORESCO fails to meet the energy savings, it will pay NAU for the savings not achieved.

The life expectancy of the conservation projects is estimated at 25-30 years.

Energy conservation is a university goal. NAU's Climate Action Plan includes a goal of reducing the campus "carbon footprint" to year 2000 levels by 2014 and down to 1990 levels by 2018. The proposal says these projects will allow NAU to achieve the second goal four years early.

Hillary Davis can be reached at hdavis@azdailysun.com or 556-2261.

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