Eco-friendly initiative underway at Vet Med

Drilling and hammering is underway at the College of Veterinary “Medicine”: for the sake of energy efficiency.

The project is intended to be completed in the fall of 2012, which will result in a 40 percent reduction in total energy at the college. The energy savings will translate to $900,000 in monetary savings, said Josh Whitson, engineer specialist for Facilities and Services.

“I think it’s going great,” Whitson said. “We’re starting to see some savings already.”

Whitson said construction for the project started in January. Its aim is to improve features of the school, including light and retrofitting, occupancy sensors, coil cleaning, air handler units and roofing work. For example, light bulbs are being changed from the less efficient T-12 fluorescent bulbs to T-8 bulbs, which are more energy-savvy, he said.

According to a press release, the total cost of the project will come out to $22 million.

Joe Kunkel, director of facilities at the college, said the students and faculty at Veterinary Medicine have been cooperative with the construction, despite the noise level and culmination of dust.

“Their reaction has been patience. It’s very disruptive what we’re doing,” Kunkel said. “They know the purpose of it, and they’re behind the project.”

The ventilation work, for instance, is very noisy, but in the long run it will have better controls and add to an improved environment, he added.

For this energy-efficient project, the University has agreed to try performance contracting with an energy service company, Energy Systems Group, or ESG.

ESG is providing a full audit on the items in the building that will save energy and is reporting back to the University with suggestions, Whitson said. He added that the business relationship with the company will only end when the energy savings will pay back the cost of the project in 18 years.

“This is actually the first project we’ve done with performance contracting,” Whitson said. “It provides a guarantee on the project.”

Sylvia McIvor, sales manager at Energy Systems Group, said the conversation between the company and the University has been going on for the past two and a half years. The changes in administration temporarily halted the efforts in the past.

“The focus of the project got sidelined for a while,” she said.

McIvor said legally, though, the energy savings have to pay for the costs of the project. She also said the benefits of the project are great and undertakes two large concerns.

“The University is taking advantage of energy conservation…and addressing aging infrastructure,” she said.

Kunkel said he feels good to be part of an endeavor that will assist in energy conservation and improve the Veterinary Medicine facility.

“I’m glad to be involved with this,” he said. “It’s a significant impact on the campus.”