(Ben Kleppinger)

By Laura Butler

Eastern will be reducing its carbon impact even more than it had planned to last spring.President Doug Whitlock announced on August 19 that after further evaluation, Eastern’s sustainability contract with Siemens Building Technologies, Inc. had grown to $27 million from its initial amount of $22 million.

Eastern announced its decision to partner with Siemens to develop a large energy- and money-saving project last spring.

The $5 million increase in the contract makes it the largest Siemens sustainability project in Kentucky and one of the largest in the nation.

The “guaranteed energy savings performance project” focuses on overhauls to several high energy-emitting systems within the university, such as lighting, electrical, heating and cooling, water conservation, building control and ventilation. When Siemens initially proposed the energy conservation plan to Eastern, the team ran an energy audit which showed the university could afford a larger performance contract totaling $22 million.

However,

Eastern’s annual utility bill totaled around $7 million when Siemens told the university the bill could be reduced by $2.2 million if they implemented the energy saving plan. James Street, Eastern’s director of capital management and facilities planning, said Eastern will be saving over $6,000 a day in energy expenses.

Eastern’s energy savings will be comparable to growing 37,000 acres of forest, removing 9,832 cars from the road, or not using 105,000 barrels of oil.

By the time the project is complete, Eastern will have reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 76 million pounds of carbon dioxide, 120,000 pounds of nitrogen oxides and 400,000 pounds of sulfur dioxide.

Eastern will fund the project by borrowing bonds, which will be repaid with the savings from the utility bill over the next twelve years. Shelling out the money to pay for the project now will save the university millions of dollars in the long run Street said.

Street said financial and environmental savings results will become visible in about 18 months when all of the new fixtures and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems are in place.

“We’re going to be cutting our on-campus utility consumption roughly in two,” Street said.

Several fans within the heating, ventilation and cooling systems on campus run all the time, but Siemens plans to install variable frequency devices that will shut down the fans when they do not need to be in service Street said.

The project is targeting systems in the Stratton, Campbell, Burrier, and Wallace buildings. New fluorescent light fixtures will be used to replace current incandescent bulbs, and water-saving appliances will be placed throughout most buildings on campus.

“Everyone is focusing on being very eco-friendly and ‘going green’ right now and Eastern is going to be making a huge contribution,” Street said.