Public Sector


John Wood Community College

John Wood Community College

The Opportunity

John Wood Community College (JWCC), located at four sites in west central Illinois, is a two-year college that serves a student population of about 2,500 in the Quincy, Perry, Pittsfield and Mt. Sterling communities. The College recognized a need to make energy efficiency upgrades, but realized that they didn’t have the workforce or expertise to do it independently, so they partnered with OpTerra. Through a self-funding modernization program, JWCC sought to improve its learning environment and lower energy and maintenance costs without raising taxes or increasing tuition fees.

The Partnership

In February 2012, John Wood Community College contracted with OpTerra to design and implement a self-funding energy modernization program. Campus efficiency improvements were installed in eight buildings at four sites, covering nearly 275,000 square feet. Upgrades included lighting retrofits, building automation and campus safety solutions, and mechanical and electrical conservation measures – all of which resulted in more comfortable learning environments for students and ease of use for building maintenance and security.

Due to the significant energy savings, the nearly $1.3 million program is completely self-funding, thus avoiding the need for a voter referendum or tuition or tax rate increase. OpTerra used a vendor-neutral approach to provide the best technology solutions for the college and designed the program to allow flexibility to add other energy-saving measures in the future. Community members were pleased that OpTerra employed local and preferred subcontractors to implement the entire project, giving a boost to the local economy.

The Impact

With this energy efficiency and maintenance improvement project, John Wood Community College has taken significant steps to brighten its financial future, in addition to demonstrating environmental stewardship in its community. The college will realize more than $116,000 in savings in the first year from lower energy and maintenance costs and more than $3.14 million in guaranteed savings over the life of the program.

The improvements decrease the college’s carbon footprint by offsetting greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 1.7 million pounds of CO2, equivalent to the carbon sequestered annually by 6,323 acres of forest or removing 170 cars from the road each year for the life of the project. Additionally, the project offsets significant amounts of other harmful gases including nearly 1,800 pounds of Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) pounds and nearly 3,800 pounds of Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) from polluting the air. The completion of this project demonstrates JWCC’s leadership in sustainability practices and serves as a model for other universities to explore smart and green energy efficiency.

The Technical Scope

  • Achieved campus-wide safety and mechanical solutions
  • Upgraded building automation and lighting
  • Electrical conservation measures