In Focus News

It's getting hot in here

(Photo: Daniel Wesser)
(Photo: Daniel Wesser)

Here’s the reality: the University of King’s College is hurting for revenue. However, investments and campus improvement efforts are being made to help with that.
The university relies heavily on enrolment for its operating revenue – it makes up 84 per cent of revenue, according to the 2016-17 operating budget. However, with enrolment decreasing, the Board of Governors thinks improving the King’s campus will help with the university’s financial situation.
It’s called “Campus Master Plan.”
On March 10, 2016, the university’s Board of Governors approved a plan designed to upgrade the King’s campus, in order to enhance the “King’s Experience” for current students and help draw in prospective students, thus adding to enrolment revenue.
Possibly the most underlying improvement to come is energy efficiency.
Technically, according to the document, energy efficiency is a second priority to things like accessibility and renewal of residences. However, because the buildings are so old – the Bays, for example, date back to the 1930s – and have only had minor upgrades to their operating systems throughout the years, the move towards energy efficiency has already started.
Alex Doyle, Director of Facilities at the University of King’s College, says he has spent a lot of time coming up with an energy proposal for the university. He added that this proposal has been approved in principle by the Campus Planning Committee (CPC) and the senior management team, and is waiting for funds that he hopes will be approved at some point during the summer.
Doyle said one aspect of the project would be relighting the campus with energy efficient lights.
“That’s a big savings energy-wise and will knock down what we’re paying now,” he said.
“That’ll knock down what we’re paying (for lighting) right now, probably by about thirty-five to forty per cent.”
He added that the savings could be even more if they install sensors. Another component of the project involves the air conditioning system.
According to Doyle, these units are water-fed, meaning they’re dumping water to cool down the system, and instead of reusing the water, it gets dumped. This system is largely outdated.
“That’s a big change and will actually save us a lot of water,” Doyle said.
Adding to the water conservation effort will involve making changes in residences, such as switching to low-flow toilets and changing showerheads. Doyle expects these changes to be made campus-wide.
Changes will also be made to the air-handling systems in the library and the New Academic Building.
Another area that requires an update is the school’s steam heating system. The King’s system is tied with the current system in place at Dalhousie, and King’s purchases the steam every quarter from the other university.
Between September 2014 and May 2015 the heating costs totaled just under $300,000 ($298,782.53). This rate for steam, Doyle says, is “very reasonable and if we maintain that, that’s good for King’s.”
He added that Dalhousie is currently planning to make changes to their system, but these changes won’t result in energy savings right away – more so in the long run.
Doyle is looking at how they can improve the heating system as it currently is. One example is automation – something Doyle introduced little over a year ago as a part of the energy proposal.
“A big part of the energy project is the automation and the monitoring of the system,” he said. “We’ve never done that here.”
“(A monitoring system) is important because we can see and monitor where our spend is, where our waste is and where we’re doing good and where we’re doing bad.”
Changes have been made in the heating system in the newly renovated North Pole Bay. According to Doyle, the bay is now running on water-based heating, which he claims saves a lot on energy.
“It also gives everybody, in every room, total control of their room,” he said.
Doyle added that with the building control system, they could look at the difference of heat in each room and confirm whether someone purposely has the heat turned up or if there’s an actual problem with the thermostat.
Another thing the Campus Master Plan does is reduce deferred maintenance.
This means that instead of continuing the maintenance on the outdated system, the university is investing in changes that will save both money and energy.
“The biggest problem with the maintaining is that we have systems that are at end of life – probably years ago – and we’re trying to maintain them,” Doyle said. “So the more building renewal we do, the better we are.”
Leading energy company Siemens Canada is also involved with the project. They helped with the assessment of the current systems and will be the ones working on all energy-related parts of the project.
According to Doyle, there will be two phases to the energy project.
The first will be implementing the new systems, reducing deferred maintenance, and getting a payback for the university.
The second phase will be looking at more creative possibilities, including solar energy, for example. This phase will involve getting student opinions and introducing any concepts that can make the campus more energy efficient/green.
“Phase two is always on the plate,” Doyle said. “But it will probably start after we finish phase one.”
According to the operating budget, the university submitted this project for federal funding. However, if funding isn’t granted, then Siemens will front the money and King’s can pay back the loan through the energy savings.
The operating budget says phase one of the energy project could save about $175,000 annually.

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