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Energy Conservation Paying Off at JALC

Dwight Hoffard, director of buildings and grounds at JALC (left), and, building maintenance staff Dwayne Sanders (middle) and Larry Tanner look over the rainwater collection system, one of the projects that is part of the college’s energy-conservation campaign. (Logan media services photo)

Dwight Hoffard, director of buildings and grounds at JALC (left), and, building maintenance staff Dwayne Sanders (middle) and Larry Tanner look over the rainwater collection system, one of the projects that is part of the college’s energy-conservation campaign. (Logan media services photo)

BY TERI CAMPBELL
Logan Media Services

CARTERVILLE - In these cost-conscious and energy-conscious times, John A. Logan College is doing its best to conserve both. Its reduce, re-use, recycle campaign is showing positive results and the college was recently informed that it ranks third among community colleges in Illinois for energy costs per square foot.

Brad McCormick, vice president for business services and campus facilities at JALC, said the college embarked on its energy-saving campaign about five years ago.

“In 2008, we set a goal to reduce our energy use by 10 percent by 2010,” McCormick said. “The first energy conservation measure (ECM) project we did was to replace the welding machines in the welding lab. Max Damron (instructor of welding) proposed the idea. He had done some research and calculations and thought we could save enough energy by buying a new welding machine to pay for that machine in a very short period of time.

“We ran the numbers and found the current welding machines were huge energy hogs,” McCormick continued. “We were able to obtain a grant that rebated part of our investment and that project had a payback of about two years.”

Since that first ECM, the college has done several other projects in an effort to save energy costs and energy use. The reduction in energy costs during that period of time has been dramatic. In Fiscal Year 2008, JALC ranked 13th in the state and paid $1.82 per square foot. In Fiscal Year 2011, it ranked third and paid $1.24 per square foot, a decrease of over 31 percent.

Pictured is a chiller that is used to air condition JALC’s main campus.  It was purchased and installed as part of the college’s energy conservation efforts. (Logan Media Services photo)

Pictured is a chiller that is used to air condition JALC’s main campus. It was purchased and installed as part of the college’s energy conservation efforts. (Logan Media Services photo)

McCormick said one of the college’s next goals is to get a formal calculation of its carbon footprint.

“It will be interesting to find that out,” he said. “We will have to recognize all the commuting to our campus and the fossil fuels that are burned to get here, along with our own energy use and emissions. But to our credit is all the land we have around us with acres and acres of trees and grasslands. Those are a positive contribution to the environment and will reduce our carbon footprint.”

Tim Gibson, sustainability coordinator at JALC and chair of the college’s green committee, said he is pleased with the third-place ranking for energy costs.

“We’re one of the most progressive campuses for energy reduction in the state, and we’ve been working really hard to reduce both our energy costs and use,” Gibson said. “In 2011, we won the Governor’s Sustainability Award for our efforts.

“However, I’m a little surprised that we’re ranked that high because there are some newer campuses in the state,” Gibson added. “I would expect them to be more energy efficient, but a lot depends on how their facilities are operated and maintained. I have to give a lot of credit to our HVAC (heating, ventilating, air conditioning) facilities staff and the scheduling office. They are very diligent about energy conservation.”

Gibson said the college is continually working to improve energy efficiency. It will soon be participating in a statewide Illinois Green Economy Network initiative called the Behavior Change for Energy Efficiency Pilot Program.

“We are one of four community colleges in the state that will be part of the pilot program,” Gibson said. “We are going to have a building dashboard installed in our G Building. The dashboard is a display monitor that people can see when they walk into the building and it shows how much energy the building is using in real time. In conjunction with that, we’re going to challenge the occupants of that building with a behavior change campaign aimed at reducing energy use. The thinking is that if people can see how their actions are affecting energy use, they will be inspired to change their behavior.

“Starting in the fall, the energy in that building will be studied to see what effect the behavior change campaign and the dashboard have on energy usage.”

Both McCormick and Gibson say that the whole campus community is involved in the energy-saving campaign.

“The great thing about it is that everybody is contributing,” McCormick said. “The facilities staff has done a great job implementing our ECM projects, faculty members have come up with energy-saving ideas, and the entire staff is being more conscientious about turning off computers and light switches. For a campaign like this to be successful everyone has to be onboard.”