Public Sector


Colorado Northwestern Community College

Colorado Northwestern Community College

The Opportunity

Colorado Northwestern Community College (CNCC) has two campuses—the original site in Rangely and a new one in Craig. In 2010, when CNCC expanded to Craig, college officials used the opportunity to construct a green campus, designing and building to the latest energy-efficient specifications.

The Partnership

CNCC worked with OpTerra to found its new campus energy program on a geothermal central plant concept rather than using traditional heating and cooling techniques. This innovative design provided a way to use cost-effective, highly-efficient geothermal energy to be shared by the 18 planned academic and residential buildings. By working with OpTerra, CNCC was able to secure a $430,000 grant from the Department of Energy to pay for the geothermal heat pump projects.

The newly-constructed campus was planned for growth and is a LEED Certified facility. LEED is a green building certificate program that uses a set of rating systems for the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of green buildings, homes and neighborhoods and recognizes excellent building strategies and practices.

The Impact

The geothermal heat pump system reduces consumption of coal-generated electricity and natural gas resources. CO2 emissions are reduced by 539 tons per year, in comparison to a traditional heating and cooling system. The state-of-the-art system and LEED certification also demonstrates CNCC’s leadership in sustainability practices and serves as a model for other universities to explore smart and green energy efficiency.

The Technical Scope

  • New/replacement boilers, chillers, cooling towers
  • Air handling units
  • Ducts/fittings
  • Pumps and primary systems
  • Variable air volume
  • Energy management system
  • Insulation/weatherproofing
  • Controls/motion sensors
  • Lighting retrofit
  • Photovoltaics