Education building at Mesa State College to be most energy-efficient building

The new business and teacher education building at Mesa State College will be the most energy-efficient building on the Western Slope within the next year, according to Xcel Energy.

At the time of the building’s design, Xcel Energy’s Fred Eggleston said, the energy company built an energy-use model for the building that projected what its consumption will be upon completion. The model takes into account all of the energy-efficient design and infrastructure planned for the building and makes comparisons to historical energy usage for similar buildings.

“We’ll need to get a year’s worth of bills to be sure,” Eggleston said, “but the model usually correlates very accurately to reality.”

Eggleston said the building’s geo-exchange ground-heating system was the deal-maker for the distinction because it supplants boilers and forced-air heating systems such as furnaces to heat the building using the Earth’s natural heat.

The attention to lighting, such as energy-efficient light fixtures, and use of natural lighting helped as well, Eggleston said.

“When you walk into the building, you notice the lack of lights visually,” he said, “but its one of the best-lit buildings on campus.”

Xcel Energy is seeing quite a bit of new construction in Mesa County implementing energy-efficient design, plus older buildings are being retrofitted using greener practices, Eggleston said.

Even with the surge in interest, Eggleston said he thinks Mesa State’s business and teacher education building will not be easy to knock off as the Western Slope’s most energy-efficient building.

“That building was so well-designed, I think it will lead the pack for quite some time,” he said.


Anatomy of an energy-efficient building:

Geo-exchange ground heating system - Built under the field adjacent to the building, the system sucks temperature from the Earth’s soil and pumps it into the building. At the time of design, the system was estimated to pay for itself in saved energy costs in 15 years, said spokeswoman Dana Nunn, but it may be sooner since energy costs have gone up. The Enivornmental Protection Agency estimates systems such as these can reduce energy consumption by more than 70 percent over heating with conventional air-conditioning systems. Mesa State included a campus-wide geo-exchange system project to submit to the state legislature that would cost $5.49 million.

Air-to-air energy recovery - This roof-top system pre-heats and pre-chills outside air before entering the building, said Kent Marsh, with facilities services. In the winter, for example, outside air is colder than necessary, so the recovery system uses the building’s exhaust to heat the incoming air, Marsh said.

White roof- reflects sunlight rather than absorbing it.

Exterior walls - have an insulation rating of r19. The rating system was developed by the U.S. Department of Energy, and the higher the value, the better the insulation is at keeping heat. An r19 rating means the insulation is 72 percent better at keeping heat than r11 insulation, the next available insulation down.

Waterless urinals and dual-flush toilets - the urinals is self-evident, but not many are familiar with dual-flush toilets. The handles on these toilets give the flusher two options. A low-volume flush is for liquid waste while a high-volume flush is for solid waste. These should cut the water consumption at the building by 50 percent.

Glass - Not only are there more windows in the building to let in natural light, but the glass in the building as an ultraviolet rating of .44. The “u-value” is the opposite of the “r-value” for insulation in that a lower number means the window better traps heat. The windows on the south side of the building are glazed with “frit,” Marsh said, which helps lower the amount of heat from the sun entering the building.

Light fixtures - are motion-sensing and adjust brightness based on how much natural light is in the room to cut back on the electricity needed to illuminate the building.

Carbon-dioxide sensors - These sense the amount of CO2 in rooms and adjust the air movement based on occupancy, Marsh said. A room with more people in it gets more air while an empty room needs little air.


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