Manhattan College launched a $2.3 million campus-wide energy conservation initiative this year that includes upgrading campus lighting, installing low-flow water fixtures and modifying heating systems on campus.
The initiative is expected to save the college money on its energy costs over the next few years.
The college estimates that they will save 6.3 million gallons of water per year, 10,337 million BTU per year in heating energy and 1.89 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year after all the changes have been implemented.
Talks of a college-wide energy initiative began in March of 2012 when H2O Applied Technologies was brought in to assess and produce a general energy analysis of the campus.
“The intent was to see if an opportunity existed that were economically viable, which followed in a more detailed visit to get a better understanding of the total financial package,” Vice President of Facilities Andrew Ryan said.
Because of the scope of the multifaceted and campus-wide project, the initiative came at no small cost to the college.
“In the end we agreed on a program that was about $2.3 million dollars, 10 percent of which was a rebate from NYSERDA, who fund many energy conservation projects,” Ryan said.
“We are getting $260,000 for the environmental program and $100,000 for the commons from them,” he said. “The annual savings total about $650,000 and the simple payback timeline is about 3.5 years.”
The initiative consisted of four focus areas for physical changes which were domestic water fixtures, steam traps, pipe insulation and lighting.
“The things that we are doing are energy conservation 101, renovations and retrofits,” Ryan said. “In our case we either just modified a fixture that was already in place or installed a new fixture all together.”
Unlike some conservation initiatives in corporate settings, the college’s initiative does not earn them a tax break.
“People forget that Manhattan College is tax-free because it is an educational institution, so a tax break had nothing to do with the program, because in the corporate world, tax savings and tax breaks are a big driving factor in terms of energy conservation,” Ryan said.
The college community has begun adjusting to the changes around campus that have resulted in some mixed reviews.
One main complaint of the community is water and the pressure specifically in sinks and showers.
“We had one brother who was complaining about his shower, but in the end he understood the benefits,” Ryan said.
“In general however we haven’t had much negative reaction,” he said. “The lighting is the area where most people will give negative feedback, because people feel that the space is now brighter and uncomfortable, but in most cases people just get used to it.”
Some students have been removing the low-flow conservation fixtures in their bathrooms in order to revert to last year’s water pressure.
This trend is spreading widely and gaining popularity throughout campus dorm buildings.
“The water pressure was reduced and everything was taking twice as long from showering to washing your hands,” junior Chuck Pallas said of the changes.
“No one is really concerned about reprimands because they can just reinstall the piece at the end of the year,” Pallas said.
According to Pallas, this has become a very frequent occurrence among students due to the ease of removing the faucet fixture.
“Do we know that students can alter the hardware for their sinks? Yes, and my initial reaction is that students not, but we are not going to go out and inspect every sink,” Ryan said. “Students need to exercise good judgment and think about what the local and global impacts are.”
The college urges students to remember the importance of energy efficiency and water conservation despite inconveniences.
“We strongly encourage students to use energy efficient bulbs which are basically the only bulbs available in order to encourage energy efficiency,” Ryan said.
“With respect to air conditioning, we encourage students to keep their units at a reasonable level,” Ryan said.