Public Sector

Higher
education

Houston Baptist University

Houston Baptist University

The Opportunity

Houston Baptist University (HBU) was founded in 1960 as a university stressing quality of life as well as quality of learning. HBU wanted to make energy efficiency improvements and building upgrades that would modernize facilities for the campus community, protect its budget and reduce its carbon footprint. A civil engineering study of the HBU campus conducted in 2009 with the assistance of a grant from Houston Endowment identified several components of the University’s physical plant in need of attention. At HBU’s request, OpTerra Energy Services completed its own audit and then surveyed the marketplace to identify specific energy-saving products and solutions that would best address the results of the civil engineering study.

The Partnership

In the spring of 2011, HBU began implementing the recommended upgrades with a complete retrofit of the lighting on campus. Updated plumbing and low-flow bathroom fixtures, new air handlers in some of the oldest buildings, and a computerized, web-based Energy Management System were among the new installations. The new Energy Management System centralizes HVAC control and adjustment by building and specified zones and minimizes equipment operation to save energy and reduce wear on motors, bearings, and other system parts. The energy savings over 10 years are expected to cover more than the initial investment, and HBU will receive a check from OpTerra if the savings do not meet specified targets at set intervals of time.

The Impact

With the support of OpTerra, the University has upgraded and replaced outdated equipment with more modern, energy efficient systems that have resulted in a greener carbon footprint and significantly reduced energy costs. With the completion of this project, University leaders have not only attested their good stewardship of resources, but also have proven their commitment to sustainability and environmentally responsible initiatives. In addition to realizing total energy savings of over $4.6 million, the University reduced natural gas consumption from 137,600 to 106,600 CCF annually and decreased their water use from 14,500 to 12,500 Kgal each year. HBU reduced its electricity use from 16 to 13 million kWh each year. The project eliminates annual greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to removing 460 passenger vehicles from the road. All work was accomplished while also addressing many of the deficiencies noted on the Houston Endowment study. This enabled HBU to report back their progress.

With better lighting and indoor air quality, the University achieved a more comfortable teaching and learning environment, supporting student retention. Now that the University has better functioning energy management, reduced maintenance demands and more secure finances as a result of the improvements, leaders can now spend available funds on other programs and initiatives that contribute to student success.

The Technical Scope

  • Mechanical upgrades included chilled water optimization, heating and cooling system enhancements, cooling tower refurbishment, and new exhaust fans
  • Installed automated, web-based HVAC controls
  • Lighting retrofit included 28-watt lamps and reflectors, compact fluorescents and LED exit signs
  • Water conservation measures included low-flow toilets, sinks, and showers