New Trend Balances Plans (HVAC, Controls, Utilities) With Campus Master Plans for Improved Control and Efficiency

  • Expert Tips

As a facilities manager, you’re probably tasked with making sure the HVAC systems serving your campus consistently deliver a comfortable, secure, and reliable learning environment for students and faculty. Of course, that doesn’t happen without a plan. How can you make sure your facilities HVAC plan is in line with the master plan for the campus—both now and into the future?

Here are some of the things your HVAC plan has to take into consideration:

  • Selecting the Right Energy Source: This is crucial if your campus has older buildings that rely on outdated and less efficient energy sources. Coal and steam powered systems face increasing compliance issues—not to mention the social sustainability stigma attached to their use. You don’t want to invest in older systems that grow less efficient and actually end up costing more in the long run. You’ll want to research hot water systems and newer more energy effect central plant options such as distributed high-efficiency chillers and condensing hot water boilers. You may also want to explore geothermal heat pump chillers and Variable Refrigerant (VRF) systems. All of these systems can be powered from the grid, or from renewable energy sources giving you flexibility for decades to come.
  • Choosing the Right Control Systems: It’s possible that some of your facilities rely on old pneumatic or antiquated control systems. Because security is now an issue (and building management systems must now include “access controls “) you won’t want to pour money into old systems that are out of compliance. Instead you’ll want to explore new alternatives and trends in energy sources and mechanical systems. For instance:
    • An Electrical System can have its own substation with the flexibility to tap off the grid or to create its own sustainable power from wind, solar, or other sources as future goals dictate.
    •  Natural Gas remains a good option because there are long-term supplies of natural gas available for hydronic heating.
    • New Systems that include the use of chiller and high-efficiency natural gas hot water boilers, geothermal heat pump chillers (for both hot and chilled water), or VRF systems.
  • Better Building Controls: Security (and the ability to monitor) has become an increasingly important issue for most campuses, leading to increased demand for “access control.” Numerous campuses now require students to use badges or keycards to enter various classroom spaces—or even to enter their dorm rooms. In addition to providing added security, it can automatically let the mechanical systems know when a classroom or dorm room is occupied and turn on power, heat, or AC only when it’s needed. When the room isn’t occupied, the system automatically sets itself back to energy-saving mode.

Not every school, college, or university has the financial resources to employ full-time, in-house engineering and facilities maintenance teams. That doesn’t mean they have to settle for lower-level HVAC and energy plans. Many educational facilities choose to partner with professional HVAC and engineering firms to make sure that they get the best results for their campus.

That’s exactly what Miami University in Oxford, Ohio did when they wanted to grow their campus while shrinking energy costs and emissions. That meant implementing a long-range housing plan to renovate and add new residence and dining halls while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and ending on-campus coal burning by 2025.

Click here to read more about how Miami University accomplished that, something that prompted associate vice-president for facility planning and operations, Cody Powell to say, “I am very proud of our efforts to make Miami University a leader in providing sustainable and efficient heating and cooling.”

It all begins with the right plan and a qualified partner to help you formulate and execute that plan. If you’d like help in this area, contact us and we’ll help you formulate a plan that allows you to take advantage of new technologies and systems to provide your facilities with a comfortable, reliable, and efficient HVAC system that saves money and provides a great learning environment for your faculty and students.