KSU implements “green” projects across campus

Rachel Jones

Students may have been noticing the little, “greener” changes popping up across campus, such as a solar panel on the White Hall Terrace Apartment bus stop on Summit Street and new windows in Dunbar and Verder Halls.

But Kent State has been working on larger-scale projects across all of its campuses to lower greenhouse gases, decrease carbon dioxide and make everything more energy efficient.

These projects include installing solar panels on the Kent State Field House, changing the light bulbs in the Ice Arena and doing several small-scale changes in buildings on the main and regional campuses to increase energy efficiency.

The energy efficiency project is broken into four phases, three of which are completed or currently being worked on.


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“The most important thing is energy efficiency,” said Melanie Knowles, sustainability manager of Facilities Planning and Operations. “It’s definitely going to save you money, and it will reduce your demand for energy. The university, over the years, has always done individual energy efficient projects.”

The spark to get these new, large-scale projects completed was House Bill 251.

Bob Misbrener, project manager at the Kent State Office of the University Architect, said the bill came about in 2006, setting a goal for public universities to reduce energy use 20 percent by 2014 from their 2004 baselines.

“It’s the right thing to do and the right time to do it,” Misbrener said.

House Bill 7 provides a funding mechanism to help pay for the HB 251 energy conservation measures.

The Federal Stimulus Program gave stimulus money to The Ohio Air Quality Development Authority. It then issues low-interest loans to energy efficiency projects across the state.

“We’ve been fortunate to be able to get money for all three phases (of the energy efficiency project),” Misbrener said.

The university has 10 years to pay back phase one of the energy efficiency project and 15 years for the rest of the projects. All three phases total $27 million so far.

“No matter what happens, we know we will be getting paid back for anything we invest in energy efficiency,” Knowles said.

Here’s a look at the projects Kent State is working on and has planned:

Energy efficiency across campuses

Brewer-Garrett Company, which is based in Cleveland, came around to evaluate places where energy efficiency could be improved.

Misbrener said the project is broken up into four phases, but each area received basically the same improvements:

Replacing fluorescent T12 lights (32-40 watts) with T8 lights (25 watts) to decrease light electricity

  • Changing restroom exhaust fan controls so fans only run if someone is in the room
  • Ensuring warm/cold air is not wasted in the winter/summer
  • Using higher-efficiency motors on air handlers and pumps to minimize electricity use
  • Replacing windows that will keep cold air out and reduce heating bills
  • Using “smart” power strips that can detect when plugged-in electronics are not in use
  • Even if a plugged-in electronic is off, it still draws energy
  • These power strips put the electronic in “sleep mode” until it is ready to be used
  • Controlling the vending machines to turn on only when people are in front of them to save electricity from lights and temperature control
  • The machine will still keep soda at a cool temperature

The first phase was at Stark campus:

  • Changes in six buildings (38,000 gross square feet)
  • Completed: June 2011
  • Cost: $1.4 million

The second phase was at Kent State Ashtabula, East Liverpool, Geauga, Salem and Trumbull:

  • Changes in 18 buildings (800,000 gross square feet)
  • Started: June 2011
  • To be completed: April 2012
  • Cost: $5.4 million

The third phase is Residence Services on Kent State main campus:

  • Changes in 24 major buildings (1.8 million gross square feet)
  • Started: June 2011
  • To be completed: June 2013
  • Cost: $20 million

“The first three phases combined lowered greenhouse gases to the equivalent of removing 1300 cars from the road and reduced the carbon dioxide 6,500 metric tons,” – Misbrener

The fourth phase will involve the rest of the buildings on campus:

  • Still in preparation stage
  • No details for another six months
  • Cost: Estimated $3.2 million

Ice Arena light replacement

The lights in the Ice Arena are being replaced to eliminate the energy the current bulbs waste.

“If you think about old-fashioned light bulbs, when you have them on, they’re very hot,” Knowles explained. “The reason they get hot is the energy we get from them — instead of being used for light — is converted into heat. The energy is just wasted, especially in an ice arena you’re trying to keep cool.”

The new bulbs will be more energy efficient in lighting and reduce the energy used to keep the Ice Arena cool.

  • Will start in late October
  • To be completed: mid-November
  • Cost: $90,000

Field House renewable energy project

A year ago, the Field House, which is near Dix Stadium, went through the same light retrofit process the Ice Arena has planned.

“After you’ve done as much energy efficiency that you can, you can start looking toward alternative forms of energy,” Knowles said.

Kent State is teaming up with Third Sun Solar, which is based in Athens, Ohio, to install solar panels on the roof of the Field House. Both groups set up a Power Purchase Agreement, so the university will host the solar panel system and pay Third Sun Solar for the energy it produces.

  • Still in planning stage
  • Cost: Estimated $2.3 million total over the next 20 years
  • Will produce energy for the Field House and Dix Stadium

Contact Rachel Jones at [email protected].