Saving energy one dollar at a time

Photo courtesy of Tony Scime

Photo courtesy of Tony Scime

By Matthew Le Blanc

Renovations seem to be an ongoing project for Mohawk and with each step the college moves closer to attaining their goals of sustainability. Some of the changes are a little less noticeable than others as lighting is replaced, bathroom fixtures are retrofitted and fans blow recycled air around the halls. These changes have been eight years in the making and are credited for an estimated $400,000 worth in future annual savings, with untold amounts of energy being saved in the process.

“What we chose to do was go after all the stuff that would help us at this point in time,” says Tony Scime, Mohawk’s Manager of Mechical and Electrical Facilities Management, about the $10 million project. “We can grab all the low hanging fruit, but what good does that really do? At the end of the day, I think in 10 to 15 years time the college will benefit from [the renovations] in dollars saved.”

Among the most notable of upgrades has been the school’s lighting. Nearly 7,000 fixtures were retrofitted or replaced between the Fennell and Stoney Creek campuses. Most classrooms now contain motion sensors to help limit energy use during peak college hours where in the past lighting would be on for most of the day.

“You put lighting in and the payback is huge,” explains Scime. “There is a lot of money saved on lighting versus putting in a new chiller, which saves you money, but the payback could be over 10 to 12 years whereas lighting would see a payback in a year or two.”

Believe it or not, roughly 90 washrooms were renovated to have touchless features installed around the Fennell campus. The purpose was two fold – to increase energy efficiency and to limit repair costs. With hygiene being an issue, most students would either use an object to activate a fixture or they wouldn’t touch things at all raising sanitation issues.

A solar wall has been built onto the E wing, which gathers sunlight and uses it to heat the air flowing into and through the building. If the wall can heat the air up by 10 C, that’s less energy spent on keeping the building at a comfortable temperature.

Manpower is also being saved as the school switched its facility control systems over to a cutting-edge automation system, which allows for direct control and feedback on nearly anything within both the Fennell and Stoney Creek campuses.

“In the good old days you would have to actually spend five to six hours of one staff member’s time to check all these fans – there was no other way of doing it,” Scime says. “This campus is quite large and Stoney Creek is far away from where we are…We’re saving on manpower which frees up a staff member to do more valuable work somewhere else.”

Scime says their next project will be to tackle areas like the A wing and bring the building up to standard like they have in the C wing. When it’s all said and done, Scime estimates the savings to be upwards of $700,000 annually.


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