Federal funds stimulate energy savings

Facilities officials are beginning to see some savings from energy-efficient projects that were partially funded by government stimulus funds.

Jeff Witt, director of utilities, estimates that Iowa State will save some $460,000 in energy costs annually as a result of projects funded through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (2009).

In 2010, Iowa State received a $2.3 million grant through the Iowa Office of Energy Independence, which distributed ARRA grants to the Regents institutions. The grants could be used to fund up to one-third of the cost of energy-efficient projects.

"With the grant money and a $4.6 million university investment, we were able to replace inefficient equipment -- boilers, chillers, steam lines and lights -- that were well past their normal life spans," Witt said. "The new equipment was selected to maximize efficiency and minimize emissions. It will serve the university for many years, providing ongoing benefits of lower energy costs."

Energy-efficient projects

Following are projects that received ARRA funding:

PROJECT: Install new high-efficiency hot water boilers and water heaters to serve the Jacobson Athletics Building and Olsen Building, and replace aging Veterinary Medicine boilers with high-efficiency steam generators.

  • Need: This project allowed Iowa State to abandon a mile of buried steam line that was connecting the three facilities to the coal-burning power plant. The 1970s-era steam line, drenched by floods in the past, had lost insulating capacity, and energy losses in the line were estimated at $250,000 annually. New equipment in the three facilities is efficient, uses natural gas and reduces the amount of coal burned on campus by approximately 6,000 tons.
  • Project cost: $4.8 million.
  • Savings: $410,000 annually. Additionally, ISU received two rebates for energy efficiency from Alliant Energy -- $19,000 for the Jacobson/Olsen improvements and $92,000 for Veterinary Medicine.

PROJECT: New lights, chiller and boilers at the Applied Sciences Center.

  • Need: The installation of more efficient lights and occupancy sensors in Buildings 2 and 3 reduced energy consumption 10 percent from the previous year. Two inefficient, 1980s era chillers cooling the center were replaced with more efficient equipment that uses a more environmentally friendly refrigerant. Energy consumption for the chiller plant is down 33 percent. In a third project under way now, two old, inefficient boilers will be replaced with high-efficiency steam generators.
  • Project cost: $2.1 million
  • Savings:  $48,300 annually.  Additionally, the university received an $18,000 rebate for the lighting project and has applied to the City of Ames and Alliant Energy for rebates for the other projects.