Public Sector


Houston Community College

Houston Community College

The Opportunity

Houston Community College (HCC) has distinguished itself as a leader and a model for other higher education institutions striving to eliminate carbon emissions. In April 2008, Houston Community College selected OpTerra Energy Services to perform a comprehensive energy assessment of its campus facilities to identify efficiency and process improvements that would have the most positive impact on reducing the college’s energy use. HCC also strongly believed in integrating sustainability education and student engagement opportunities into the broader project.

The Partnership

By working closely with OpTerra on a large-scale energy efficiency and education program, HCC has taken ambitious steps to achieve carbon neutrality. First, OpTerra performed a comprehensive energy assessment of its campus facilities to reduce its overall energy use. Then, the school wanted to figure out how to use the energy it relied on more wisely. Together, HCC and OpTerra embarked on an extensive project to modernize 29 campus buildings with improved indoor and outdoor lighting, upgraded air handling systems, water conservation measures and new building management control systems. OpTerra made all improvements to campus buildings under a guaranteed energy savings performance contract, integrating incentive rebates that were offered by the local utility to increase energy savings.

Additionally, HCC demonstrated its commitment to reducing carbon emissions through student and staff involvement. HCC developed its own Clean + Green Committee, which includes green projects and a campus-wide recycling program, to enhance the overall impact of implementing sustainable technology on site.

The Impact

Through the comprehensive approach of stakeholder engagement and more efficient design, the college has reported cumulative greenhouse gas reductions of 30,155 metric tons of CO2. The overall improvements save HCC approximately $600,000 yearly with projected savings of $11 million over the 15-year life of the project. Program savings were enhanced by incentive rebates offered for the various energy-saving measures.

Through the successful partnership with OpTerra, HCC has demonstrated its fiscal and environmental stewardship, considerably reduced its environmental footprint and provided safer and more comfortable working and learning environments for the campus community.

The Technical Scope

  • Upgraded Interior and outdoor lighting
  • Improved building management controls system
  • Air-handling system upgrades and replacements, including occupancy sensors
  • Water conservation measures
  • New central plant with combined heat and power