FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Accompanies No. COC-08-052
November 8, 2007
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COLLEGE OF THE CANYONS' STEPS TOWARD SUSTAINABILITY
College of the Canyons has employed a number of energy-efficient and environmentally friendly practices in its campus operations, maintenance and construction plans, including: the use of cogenerating central plants, the installation of more energy-efficient light bulbs and electrical fixtures, the use of environmentally friendly building materials whenever possible, multiple water-conservation efforts and a campus-wide recycling campaign.
THE USE OF CENTRAL PLANTS AND COGENERATION ON CAMPUS
A central plant is a facility housing chillers, boilers and cooling towers. It serves as a single source of supply for hot water (heating both air and potable water) and chilled water (for cooling air) that supplies multiple buildings from a central location -- all controlled by a sophisticated computer system that continually and automatically adjusts its controls to provide the most energy-efficient levels possible.
Most new buildings provide heating, cooling and hot water sufficient to supply just that building and allow individual control of the systems. However, this is a tremendous waste of natural resources when you consider the efficiency of a per-building approach is much less than a single, larger facility that can serve several buildings at one time.
When a campus becomes a conglomeration of 30 or 40 buildings encompassing 600,000 to 700,000 square feet, the combined inefficiencies and waste of separate systems is enormous.
Life at College of the Canyons actually began with a central plant concept, with the college's first such facility constructed on the roof of what is now Bonelli Hall. But as the campus began to expand in the early 1990s, Superintendent-President Dr. Dianne Van Hook began applying for funds to construct the college's first major central plant.
Though met with opposition from the state Department of Finance, which cited the project as having no viable benefit, Van Hook was eventually able to secure funding for the college's south plant near Mentry Hall. It was the first real central plant in the California community college system.
With the college's continued growth has come a remodeling of the original Bonelli Hall central plant, the subsequent remodeling and expansion of the south campus central plant and the addition of a third such facility on the north side of campus. Combined, the central plants serve all of the college's current buildings and facilities, with enough reserve capacity for the entire buildout of the campus.
As an additional step toward sustainability, College of the Canyons has added cogeneration capabilities to both the north and south central plants. The college produces its own electrical power via natural gas-fired generators, which use the waste heat from the exhaust to produce both hot and cold water for normal central plant functions -- dramatically reducing the college's power costs in the process.
In fact, the central plant and cogeneration projects have been so efficient that the college has received gas and electric utility rebates of roughly $1 million via an energy-saving program initiated by the California community college system, which itself was recently recognized by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.
BUILDING MATERIALS & REDUCTION OF EXTERNAL ENVIRONMENT EFFECTS
With the college's recent major expansions has come an adopted policy of using recycled construction materials whenever possible, as well as a building strategy designed to reduce the external environment's effect on new buildings by positioning structures in the correct orientation of the sun's path.
A major component of all campus construction programs, the use of recycled building materials on campus includes: 100 percent recycled carpet and rubber flooring; plastic fittings for plumbing and air conditioning systems; drywall with recycled paper backing; plywood made from recycled paper and mill waste chips; and paving materials using recycled concrete, asphalt and rock.
Placing a building according to the sun's orientation is a simple and effective way of reducing the potential heat demand of that building on its cooling system. The college has whenever possible placed buildings with large glass fronts (Library, Performing Arts Center and Hasley Hall) facing east or north, allowing the full benefit of natural light and avoiding the potential overload of the late afternoon sun.
LIGHTS AND ELECTRICITY ON CAMPUS
Energy conservation on campus does not end with the use of central plants and construction strategies designed to yield more natural light.
Every room on the campus has been equipped with area motion-sensor lighting, which turns lights off whenever rooms are not being used. The entire campus has been retrofitted with T-8 bulbs and electronic ballasts, saving more than 30 percent energy over conventional fluorescent systems.
Metal halide and mercury vapor interior lights have all been replaced with T-5 lamps and ballasts, which use about 25 percent of the power of the previous fixtures. In addition, all exterior walkway and parking lot lighting has been retrofitted with 70-watt fixtures and ballasts, down from the original 250-watt specifications.
The college has also implemented a computer-controlled lighting system that controls all exterior, and some interior, campus lights and can be used externally to turn lights on and off at predetermined times.
Though seemingly minute in terms of helping to reduce energy consumption, over time the use of variable frequency drives and power conditioners has significantly added to the college's energy conservation.
Variable frequency drives are "electronic dimmers" installed in front of electrical motors that are primarily used for pumping water and turning fans on campus. The drives electronically "trick" the motors into believing they are receiving a full charge, and thus not working as hard when the demand for power is diminished.
Power conditioners are filters that help provide perfect-phased electrical current to equipment so that the equipment can function at optimal design standards without having to compensate for fluctuations in the power stream.
WATER CONSERVATION AND CAMPUS RECYCLING
Water conservation strategies at College of the Canyons include the use of waterless, no-flush restroom urinals, a computer-controlled irrigation system, and the adoption of a natural and drought-resistant landscaping scheme.
The computer-controlled irrigation system allows for minute adjustments in the watering schedule, which adds up to large water savings, while the drought-resistant landscaping reduces the need to overly water while at the same time surviving the area's temperature swings.
The move to an artificial FieldTurf playing surface -- made up of rubber from recycled tires and sneakers -- has completely eliminated the need to water or perform landscaping maintenance on the Cougar Stadium field.
Because of an aggressive on-campus recycling program -- including the collection of cans, bottles and paper; separation of green waste; composting efforts; recycling of electronic waste and separation of construction materials into like categories before disposal -- College of the Canyons has for the last five years been in compliance with the California Integrated Waste Management Board's initiative to reduce total solid-waste generation by at least 50 percent.
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