URI energy efficiency initiative continues with improvements to academic buildings, Providence campus, Bay campus

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KINGSTON, R.I. – May 6, 2009 – Energy conservation and efficiency measures are being put in place in the University of Rhode Island’s academic and administration buildings this spring and summer, as well as at the URI Feinstein Providence Campus and the Narragansett Bay Campus, in the next phase of a three-year, $18 million initiative.

The upgrades to the campus facilities will save more than 7 million kilowatthours of electricity and 42 million pounds of steam per year. Through a contract with energy services company NORESCO, the improvements will be paid for over 12 years from the savings on the University’s utility bills.

“There is a great deal of work going on at all of the University’s facilities, though most people might not have noticed it,” said URI Utilities Engineer Dave Lamb. “Most of the work is taking place in the late afternoons and evenings to avoid interrupting classes and other activities.”

At the Bay campus in Narragansett, lighting upgrades and occupancy sensors are being installed, and most buildings are also receiving automated temperature controls. In addition, a new boiler was installed in the Coastal Institute to replace an outdated unit that was failing, and the heating system in the Horn building is being converted from electric to gas.

“The old chiller and heating system in the Coastal Institute was costing us $30,000 per year in maintenance, so the upgrade there saves energy as well as maintenance costs,” said Lamb. “And since it is being paid for through the savings on the performance contract, we avoid expending money from our asset protection budget.”

Lighting upgrades and occupancy sensors have also been installed at the Providence campus, and improvements were made to the building’s air handling system.

At the Kingston campus, where energy efficiency improvements were made to the residence halls in 2008 and to the athletic facilities and Memorial Union in 2007, the academic and administration buildings are next. Lighting improvements have been completed in about 30 of these buildings out of 65 that are being targeted.

“In some of the older buildings, like Ranger Hall and Woodward Hall, there is a dramatic difference in the amount of light in the rooms and quite a reduction in energy consumption,” said Andy Alcusky, URI’s project manager. “We’re hearing people say, ‘Gee, I can see things now.’”

After the semester is completed, work will begin in the Robert L. Carothers Library and Learning Commons, where lighting, heating and air conditioning improvements will be installed.

“The library is a unique challenge,” noted Lamb. “It was built over many years and is a product of three additions. This created a situation where the HVAC system has been difficult to work with, and proper air distribution has been a challenge. We’ll be working to balance out the air flow and upgrade the controls to help maintain more consistent heating and cooling.”

After these projects are complete, work will commence at the W. Alton Jones campus in West Greenwich, as well as at East Farm, which is about a mile from the Kingston campus.

The key improvement at East Farm will be the installation of a water recirculation system for the aquaculture center, which consumes 50 million gallons of water per year at an annual cost of $130,000. The new system will reduce water use by 85 percent, dramatically reducing water withdrawal from the aquifer through the Kingston Water District.