Andrea B. Bond
Thanks to funding from the State Energy Program/American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, energy-efficiency upgrades will improve energy performance at 76 state-owned and-operated buildings throughout West Virginia.
“The number one reason for commercial buildings to upgrade their systems is to save energy,” said John F. “Jeff” Herholdt Jr., director of the W.Va. Division of Energy, home to the SEP/ARRA program. “Replacing outdated systems with newer, more efficient ones means lower energy use, and in the case of SEP/ARRA, lower energy costs for state government.”
The building upgrades are part of the nearly $42 million in Recovery Act funding allocated by the U.S. Department of Energy to flow through the W.Va. Division of Energy for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in the state.
These improvements, which include lighting, HVAC and window upgrades on 5.9 million square feet of state-owned and operated facilities, are expected to be complete by spring of 2012.
The SEP/ARRA program provides funds to seven state agencies for energy efficiency upgrades. “Energy Efficiency in State Buildings: Higher Education” is designed to make buildings operated by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission more energy efficient, saving the state of West Virginia an estimated $400,000 annually in energy costs.
Students in several state colleges and universities will benefit from improved, climate-controlled buildings, according to Shelia Hunt, contract specialist with the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission.
“I’m sure everybody is very pleased with the improvements. We’re excited to have the federal money,” Hunt said. “Most of the upgrades – because they’re rooftop units or boilers in the basement, for example – won’t be visible to the students. But they will notice a difference in improved conditions,” she added.
“These federal funds enable the state’s colleges and universities to upgrade building systems to modern, efficient ones, at no extra cost to state government,” Herholdt said.
Bridgemont Community and Technical College is one of West Virginia’s institutions of higher education that will see significant improvements as a result of the $9.49 million program. Work began in February 2010 on HVAC improvements at Davis Hall. The cost of this project is $450,000. Phase I of the work, which was funded by the SEP/ARRA, has been completed, and the HVAC units are working. As a result of this upgrade work, the projected annual savings will be $56,941.
Commercial building owners also might want to consider HVAC replacements to increase comfort for those who use them, Herholdt said. “More efficient heating and cooling translates into productivity and less down time due to equipment outages.”
A chiller replacement project at Marshall University’s Corbly Hall falls into this category. It began in January 2010 at a cost of $298,900.
The new chiller is providing ample cooling to the 40-year-old building, said Mark Cutlip, director of physical plant at Marshall. The project was completed on April 9 – just in time for the approaching hot weather months.
“Our building occupants are really happy,” Cutlip said, adding that the new chiller will help on cooling, save on water consumption and chemical treatment, and save on labor to maintain the cooling tower.
“This new unit will provide 12 months of cooling whereas the old tower only provided eight months’ cooling out of a year,” he said.
Assistant Vice President for Administration Karen Kirtley said Marshall has secured additional funding to replace the chillers on the Science Hall: “That project has not started yet but it is in the work planning stage.”