Scanning his office computer, Sustainability Director Ed Neal noticed that two windows were left open in a student’s room in Hanna Hall. And he saw that heat to that room had automatically switched off and the room temperature had leveled to 55 degrees.
From his online monitoring perch, Neal could see that Kenyon’s plan to save energy and money was clicking.
As one part of an ambitious, $7 million energy-conservation project, rooms in six residence halls have been outfitted with thermostats, motion and heat sensors that detect occupancy, and sensors that report open windows. The temperature in a heated room with an open window drops immediately to 55 degrees. An unoccupied room with the windows closed drops to 68 degrees.
“I’m pretty happy with the way the project has worked out,” Neal said. “It’s very worthwhile anytime you can improve the environment and reduce the carbon footprint.”
The six residence halls with room-sensitive thermostats and solar-powered sensors include Caples, Hanna, Leonard, Mather, McBride, and Old Kenyon. “You would go by Old Kenyon or Caples and you could see windows swung open and it’s February. They’re hot and miserable and we’re paying for it. Now they can adjust the temperature to what they want,” Neal said.
In addition to automated residence-hall room controls, the project included campus-wide lighting, heating-system, and water-use improvements with a goal of trimming 10,785 metric tons of carbon dioxide a year from the Kenyon energy diet and recovering the initial investment in 12 years. Kenyon is already ahead of both goals, Neal said. Lighting improvements, for example, have cut electricity consumption for lighting in half.
More than 11,000 light fixtures and lamps, or tubes, were installed, wiping out inefficient, noisy, “energy-gobbling” fixtures and tubes. New tubes feature not only better-quality light but are manufactured with less mercury and are expected to perform for five years, reducing replacement and labor costs.
Water savings include the replacement and upgrade of 1,300 fixtures, including faucet-flow restrictors, reduced-flush toilets, and foot valves in kitchen, medical, and laboratory sinks —an “enormous, detailed project.” Student feedback indicates approval of the low-flow aerators on faucets that create the impression of producing more water but actually provide “a nice, efficient pattern” with less water, Neal said.
In addition, Kenyon has purchased two Global Electric Motorcars for use by maintenance staff, trimming a $10 daily cost to 10 cents.
A website created this year gives Neal an open window to view campus energy consumption building by building. Installation of 108 meters allows the College to monitor building-specific electricity and heat use. The capacity to monitor energy consumption in each building and to share that information online provides an “awareness factor” that is essential to energy savings, Neal said.
“If we didn’t touch it, it was already energy-efficient,” he said. “Ninety-eight percent of the campus was touched by this project. We’re just enthused that we’re able to save as much as we are and improve the environment at the same time.”