College of the Siskiyous Success Story

Pictured are Scotty Thomason (left), president, College of the Siskiyous and Pacific Power’s Todd Andres.Scotty Thomason (left), president, College of the Siskiyous and Pacific Power’s Todd Andres

College of the Siskiyous, a publicly funded community college in Weed, California, is recognized for its outstanding programs in the humanities and arts, sciences and technology, and in athletics. The college serves nearly 2,400 students a year.

As with other public institutions, College of the Siskiyous is called upon to make the most of tight budgets. Improving energy efficiency has proved to be an important strategy for the college in reaching its goals.

“Our mission is to promote student learning and make our students successful. The more resources that flow directly into that process, the more effective we can be,” said Mark Healy, the college’s maintenance and facilities director. “When we can reduce the amount we pay out for overhead expenses like power, it allows us to enhance our instructional programs.”

Building in efficiency

Healy said Pacific Power’s energy efficiency programs have been helping the College of the Siskiyous lower energy use as far back as 1994. “Pacific Power came in and did an audit for us. We fully implemented eight of their recommendations, partially implemented one, and in doing so achieved almost 28 percent energy savings. That’s huge.”

The utility’s programs, which offer cash incentives as well as technical expertise, assisted with several energy-efficient upgrades in the college’s Science Building, which opened in late summer 2012. “What’s really innovative in the Science Building is we use our irrigation water for cooling – water flows out of the ground at 50 degrees and we basically run it through the building to pull the heat out before the water goes to the sprinkler heads,” Healy said. Compared to traditional cooling schemes, the energy savings on the system are substantial.

Variable frequency drives also were installed on ventilators in the building. “That’s part of the control strategy. You don’t need to be running full blast all the time if loads don’t dictate it,” Healy said.

In addition, the building is illuminated by efficient, dimmable fluorescent lighting, which not only saves energy, but also improves the building’s learning environment, according to Healy.

Lower costs, quicker payback

The Science Building upgrades are saving College of the Siskiyous nearly 107,100 kilowatt-hours of electricity yearly. This usage reduction translates into $13,560 in annual energy cost savings. The college earned nearly $11,000 in Pacific Power incentives to help offset costs of the projects and cut the overall simple payback from almost two years to less than one year.

Healy said the college also has been able to take advantage of funding available through California’s Clean Energy Jobs Act along with Pacific Power incentives to soon complete an upgrade of exterior lighting on the campus to highly efficient LEDs.

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