Saving Energy While Improving Campus Operations in North Carolina


Higher education institutions face unique challenges when it comes to reducing energy costs. Colleges and universities often have multiple campuses, each with numerous buildings that may alternate from full capacity to empty several times each day. This can create challenges not only for heating and cooling, but lighting and water resource planning as well.

As Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC) in Charlotte, North Carolina continued to increase its enrollment and expand its campuses, the school sought to upgrade its infrastructure to ensure an optimal learning environment for students. Challenged by budget constraints, the college also wanted to reduce energy and operational costs to improve building performance, while implementing conservation measures in alignment with its sustainability goals.

Trane had existing knowledge of the campus and its critical facilities’ needs. Viewed as a trusted advisor, Trane was ultimately selected to work with the institution throughout the existing building and new construction process.

Leveraging future savings to pay for upgrades

CPCC entered into a performance contract agreement with Trane, focused on improvements to the college’s Central Campus. The performance contract allowed the college to leverage future energy savings to finance infrastructure upgrades, without applying upfront capital. The guaranteed energy savings contract provided a landscape for Trane to work closely with CPCC’s Facilities Services team to develop strategic energy-saving building improvements.

Trane conducted feasibility studies and proposed energy conservation measures (ECMs) strategically aligned with the college’s critical facility needs, energy savings objectives and sustainability goals.

ECMs completed on CPCC’s Central Campus as part of the first phase of the Trane performance contract resulted in more than $380,000 in energy savings in the first year.

Based on this initial success, the community college entered into a second performance contract with Trane, covering 30 buildings on six CPCC campuses.

Enhancing efficiency of critical missions

The second phase of the performance contract included an upgrade of the college’s data center. The school’s existing servers were replaced with high-efficiency data servers that reduced operating costs while providing for more effective IT service to improve and protect the critical missions of the school.

Phase two of the project also included retrofitting more than 18,000 lighting fixtures across six school campuses with more efficient lighting. Occupancy sensors were added in some areas to turn light fixtures off in unoccupied spaces.

Traditional water conservation measures were duplicated across the CPCC locations for domestic water savings. The improvements included retrofitting existing fixtures with low-flow devices, water-saving measures for ice makers and cooling tower net metering to reduce sewer costs.

Tying it all together with controls

In phase two, a Trane Tracer Summit™ building automation system (BAS) was integrated with existing controls to deliver significant standardization of existing building controls and sequences to enable more effective comfort and energy management.

The BAS provides the college with access to all control systems via an online web interface to manage climate, lighting and energy consumption. Facility managers use the BAS for scheduling and to respond to alarms, view reports, implement custom programming and perform other daily tasks.

Phase one results

Phase one measurement and verification (M&V) results show that upgrades implemented on Central Piedmont Community College’s Central Campus have resulted in energy savings of more than $799,500 in the first two years of the Trane performance contract, exceeding the savings guarantee by 11 percent in year one and 19 percent in year two.

CPCC continues to aggressively decrease energy intensity per campus square foot, and reduce its carbon footprint. Phase two will result in additional savings and efficiencies.

Whether you’re looking to reduce energy and resource costs on a sprawling college campus or a single commercial building, our experts can guide you. Contact us today to learn about how you could benefit from the Trane Building Advantage.

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