'Green' projects on campus show energy, power savings as institute reaches out nationwide

The installation of 64 solar panels onto the Education and Human Services Building could save Central Michigan University money while reducing its negative environmental impact.

Steve Lawrence, associate vice president of Facilities Management, said the solar panels will save the university $15,000 a year in heating and cooling costs during the Feb. 17 CMU Board of Trustees meeting. He told board members the panels will reduce CMU's carbon footprint by 45 metric tons.

Tom Rohrer, director of the Great Lakes Institute of Sustainable Systems, said the EHS building is the model for the rest of campus to ultimately emulate.

The panels are tentatively scheduled to be installed by the end of the week.

Another environmentally-minded change on campus is demand-driven ventilation.

Carbon dioxide sensors have been fully installed in Moore and Pearce halls, the Student Activity Center, and the Engineering and Technology Building. Rose Arena is 99 percent complete, and the North Arts Studio and University Art Gallery are nearing completion, Rohrer said.

“When carbon dioxide gets to a certain level in building, fresh air needs to be let in,” he said. “We don’t want to exchange air when we don’t have to (heat in winter, air conditioning in summer), because it makes the temperature uncomfortable inside.”

Rohrer said the temperature stays more constant with the sensors while determining the exact level of carbon dioxide — making it safe without using unnecessary energy. The energy company CMU hired provides a rebate that equates to two-thirds of the total project cost. CMU is using its own staff for work on these projects, which also is saving money, Rohrer said.

“Although GLISS is in its first year of actual operation, I am very pleased with our progress,” said Rick Kurtz, interim associate dean of the College of Humanities, Social and Behavioral Sciences. “We are in the process of developing partnerships with fortune 500 companies, local governments, and school districts. On campus we are working with faculty to facilitate research projects, new academic program development and to continue the implementation of energy conservation.”

Also saving CMU money on energy costs is switching light fixtures. The ET building is under a four-month process of changing from 40- to 28-watt bulbs. Rohrer said the fixtures produce the same amount of light, but save 30 percent on lighting costs.

CMU receives a rebate of one-third of the project cost from power companies Consumers Energy and Detroit Edison.

It is anticipated that GLISS will emerge within a few years as a flagship institute that makes meaningful contributions to sustainability on a regional level, Kurtz said.

“We’re working with Facilities Management to promote these energy-saving projects across campus,” Rohrer said. “It’s just all part of becoming a more sustainable university.”


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