Coe embarks on major energy reduction program as part of the college's commitment to sustainability

Extra: Rod Pritchard, Director of Marketing and Public Relations
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2014-05-21 08:15:36 - General

Coe College is embarking on a major energy reduction program that will decrease the institution's electricity use by 25 percent and natural gas consumption by almost 50 percent, and deliver approximately $220,000 in guaranteed energy and operational savings each year. Combined with a transition to gas-fired heating through the construction of a new steam plant with St. Luke's Hospital in 2010, the college expects to cut its carbon footprint in half.

The campus-wide energy retrofit project will be performed by Honeywell. When completed, the project also aims to reduce the environmental impact of the 20-building campus, trimming close to 2,300 metric tons of annual greenhouse gas emissions - equivalent to removing 450 cars from the road. This will help the college meet the sustainability requirements of the American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), which Coe College and more than 680 other U.S. institutions have joined to help curb climate change.

Coe will fund the $3.45-million project with a loan issued by the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) under its Energy Bank funding program, a resource available to public and non-profit entities to finance energy-efficient improvements and renewable-energy projects.

The low-interest-rate loan will help the college to pay for the work without tapping into its capital budget. In addition, the savings generated from the improvements, guaranteed by Honeywell through a 15-year performance contract, should cover the project expenses.

As part of the retrofit project, Honeywell will implement a number of building management improvements in 16 facilities. These enhancements include redesigning air-distribution systems and adding HVAC controls so operators can better manage energy use and comfort. Additional upgrades include: high-efficiency lighting and occupancy sensors; weatherization improvements to reduce the loss of conditioned air; and new plumbing fixtures to cut water waste.

"Coe has a long history of adopting conservation measures, but we had reached a point where it was difficult to achieve more without outside resources," said Coe Vice President for Administrative Services Michael White. "Honeywell identified where we can drive greater efficiency and helped build a master plan for future improvements."

Construction is slated to begin in late May and is expected to last 12 months. Honeywell will work with local contractors to complete most of the upgrades, helping create or sustain an estimated 35 jobs based on figures from the National Association of Energy Service Companies.

"Energy retrofit projects help Coe College and other institutions in many facets, not just lowering energy use and costs," said Paul Orzeske, president of Honeywell Building Solutions. "There are direct environmental benefits - important for organizations with sustainability goals. These projects also help revitalize critical buildings and infrastructure."

Coe has committed itself to multiple sustainability initiatives in recent years, including:

  • In the most recent greenhouse gas inventory, Coe has cut its carbon footprint by 19 percent in the past four years. A significant part of the decrease was due to switching from coal to natural gas to heat the campus, utilizing the LEED certified steam plant shared with St. Luke's Hospital.
  • Coe has committed to design future building projects to be as energy efficient and environmentally responsible as possible. The remodel of Peterson Hall was carried out using LEED standards, which included recycling as many of the construction materials as possible, as well as many water- and energy-saving updates.
  • Coe purchases ENERGY STAR appliances and electronic devices whenever possible.
  • Coe has developed a climate action plan for moving the college toward climate neutrality.
  • The Coe Sustainability Council (composed of Coe faculty, staff and students) helps oversee implementation and monitoring of the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment.
  • Coe/Sodexo Director of Dining Services Tom Wieseler was recognized as the 2012 Iowa Recycling Association's Recycler of the Year. Thanks to his efforts, Coe Dining Services had been composting all food waste since 2005.
  • Coe Dining Services is part of the EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge (FRC), a national initiative aimed at encouraging businesses, organizations and institutions to actively participate in food waste prevention, surplus food donation and food waste recycling activities.
  • Coe has a sustainability coordinator on staff, dedicated to working on campus sustainability issues.

Located near the heart of Cedar Rapids, Coe is a selective, private, nationally recognized liberal arts college providing superior quality educational experiences for students since 1851. Coe College has a reputation for academic excellence enhanced by a student-centered, highly supportive campus environment. Coe is dedicated to preparing students for fulfilling careers and graduate study.