It's All Cool: Final Hot Spots at Catawba Get Air-Conditioning
August 24, 2010
The last non-air-conditioned spaces on Catawba College's campus will finally be cool thanks to a new Facilities project that is nearing completion. The Goodman Gymnasium, the Meyer Auxiliary Gymnasium and the racquetball courts, all part of the Abernethy Physical Education Center, were the targets of the cooling project.
According to College Facilities Director Eric Nianouris, the main reason the project was undertaken was "comfort," but he explained, embarking on cooling the three aforementioned areas caused his department to "totally reconfigure energy usage in the building."
"We were just going to air-condition the two gyms and the three racquetball courts when we started to realize that there was no demand for heat in the gyms until the outside temperature reached 38 degrees Fahrenheit," Nianouris continued. "We realized the project didn't have to cost much more for us to be more energy efficient. Carl Beaver and Lynn Beaver, our HVAC and electrical maintenance technicians at the college, made some unique suggestions and from these, we opted to go with heat pumps for cooling and heating because it was cheaper to heat with electricity than with natural gas."
Eighteen, energy-efficiency (SEER certified) heat pumps were installed on the roof of the Abernethy Physical Education Center for heating and cooling the spaces. Two, older gas boilers – one 1 million BTU gas boiler that had been used to heat the spaces and to provide hot water for the building, and a 400,000 BTU gas boiler that had helped handle the load that the 1 million BTU gas boiler could not handle – were eliminated. Within six weeks, solar panels will be installed on the roof to heat the water for the building, as well as two, new 400,000 BTU, energy-efficient natural gas boilers that will serve as back up for the solar panels. These new natural gas boilers will be alternately used so they are never stressed, Nianouris said, adding that this process will help extend their service.
Since the new heat pumps installed at the Abernethy Physical Education Center are energy efficient, Catawba's Facilities Department has applied for an incentive payment available to non-residential customers through Duke Energy's Smart $aver Incentive program. That program is designed to help Duke customers increase profitability through energy cost savings while contributing to a cleaner environment.
Projects like the one to reconfigure the energy usage in the Abernethy Physical Education Center, Nianouris said, will help move Catawba toward its goal of climate neutrality. The college has made a public commitment (2007) as a charter member of the American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) to eliminate its institutional carbon footprint. It has set the date of 2030 as its goal year for achieving climate neutrality in its publically documented Climate Action Plan. On an annual basis, the college is striving to achieve a five percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.