Gannon University Supports Innovative Green Initiatives Across Campus
Posted: April 22, 2015
The classic American college campus, with its verdant quads and
tree-lined walks is where you would expect to find environmentally
conscious initiatives. Yet Gannon University's urban campus offers
its own share of opportunities to reduce energy usage, noise
pollution, and with them, the cost of operating a physical plant
consisting of more than 50 buildings.
Some of these projects, such as the conversion to more efficient
lighting in Beyer Hall, a classroom building, and in the Hammermill
Center, seem small-scaled-until you look at the savings, in this
case more than $70,000 in energy costs.
And campus-wide, energy-saving initiatives have reduced the
University's carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 1,500 metric tons a
Some projects are large-scale endeavors in every way. The
replacement of the forest of heating and cooling towers on the roof
of the Zurn Science center last summer was one such project.
"At the time, we renovated the building years ago, the
engineering firm designed [the equipment] to operate at 100 percent
of capacity, 100 percent of the time," said Gary Garnic, associate
vice president for campus services.
"Energy to exhaust air is a big expense. Energy to heat or cool new
air is expensive, too. So we came up with a plan to change rooftop
equipment so that when motion detectors sense that there aren't
students in the building, we reduce capacity." Garnic estimates the
savings at $88,000 a year.
The new equipment saved more than energy, too. The equipment,
using variable speed drives, is quieter, especially at night,
something the residents of Methodist Towers, an apartment building
for older adults adjacent to Zurn, have come to appreciate.
Garnic and his team have also been innovative in finding ways to
reduce energy consumption and save money. One is an energy
curtailment system by which the University is paid to voluntarily
reduce the amount of electricity it uses during peak times when the
power grid is most stressed. That saved $23,000 in the last year
At North Hall, the heating, ventilation and air conditioning
system has two energy recovery systems and the residence hall's
lighting was designed at to use electricity at 34 percent below the
energy standard. Low-flow plumbing and carpeting that is low in
volatile organic compounds (VOCs) were also used.
Gannon buildings have green, white and foam roofs. "The green
roofs are models, because our buildings weren't designed with the
load of a true green roof in mind," Garnic said. Still, the exit
canopies at Zurn are green. Garnic said that the cooling effect of
the green and white roofs is even more important in the city, where
so-called "heat islands" created by asphalt streets and dark roofs
can be mitigated.
Reuse and recycle is a strategy gaining momentum on
campus. When the $14.5 million-dollar renovation of the Student
Recreation and Wellness Center was being planned, the contractor
brought in a screening plant that removed the rubble in the soil,
which was hauled out and the soil was reused on site, rather than
bringing in new soil.
Similarly, when new furniture was ordered for Wickford
Apartments, the used furniture wasn't sent to a landfill, but
rather to a charity that shipped the gently used tables, desks and
wardrobes to Nicaragua, where they were distributed to families in
poverty. Increased recycling saved more than $20,000 in
trash-hauling fees last year.
It's a notion that appeals to Garnic, who built an electric
vehicle on the platform of a 2002 Chevrolet Tracker, just for fun.
That project is indicative of the spirit of experimentation that
Garnic and his staff bring to their jobs. Their next project?
"If we combine all the electric meters in Harborview
Apartments--86 of them--we can save the meter cost," he said. We'll
put sub-meters in linked to the building automation system, and we
can have energy-saving competition between students to see who can
save the most. Wouldn't that be interesting?"