Grant helps BC conduct energy audit

A comprehensive energy audit funded in part by a grant from the Jessie Ball duPont Fund will further Bridgewater College’s ongoing mission to achieve environmental sustainability.

The audit, which is scheduled to begin in October, will evaluate energy and utility consumption in every structure on campus and prioritize energy uses. Armed with a comprehensive picture of energy consumption, Bridgewater will then implement systems to conserve usage, save natural resources and educate students about energy conservation.

The audit will be used to identify the highest priority campus buildings for utility submetering, which is important for benchmarking energy use and measuring the results of utility conservation initiatives. Grant funds will also be used to procure and install meters in 13 major buildings.

Of the project’s $225,000 cost, the duPont Fund provided $150,000. Money from the fund is available only to institutions and organizations that received support from Jesse Ball duPont during the years 1960-64. Bridgewater College is one of only 65 colleges and universities eligible for grants from the fund.

Teshome Molalenge, executive director of facility support and auxiliary services, noted that the energy audit is vital to Bridgewater’s thrust toward conservation and sustainability. He said that while construction of the LEED Silver-registered Stone Village student residences and the energy-efficient renovation of the Wright-Heritage buildings underscore Bridgewater’s commitment to energy optimization, they were only a first step.

He said that 80 percent of the college’s buildings are at least 50 years old, with 13 percent exceeding the 100-year mark. Thirteen buildings – 25 percent of the structures at Bridgewater – account for a combined total of 65 percent of campus energy use. Molalenge said that by monitoring through the use of sub-meters, the college can account for energy use on a time-of-day basis, identify performance problems, guide preventive maintenance, verify energy savings and prioritize energy projects.

“This audit will provide us both short- and long-term strategies to lessen energy consumption, reduce the college’s carbon footprint, identify energy efficiency measures and provide the energy component for future master planning,” said Molalenge. “We will realize benefits in many ways, including cost savings, the improvement of human comfort and health and, of course, wise stewardship of the environment.”

In addition to examining energy consumption by reviewing utility bills and services, auditors will examine buildings and the systems that support them, including heating and cooling, lighting and water. Molalenge said the project is expected to take 18 months to complete – one month to finalize the selection of auditors, four months to complete the audit and develop the energy master plan, seven months to install sub-meters and six months to collect and analyze data and prepare the final report.

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