Economizing Efficiency with NYSERDA Project Payoffs

Imagine if you could get paid for being environmentally friendly. Many states give financial rewards for eco-friendly practices and energy conservation. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, or NYSERDA, provides financial incentives for businesses and institutions to invest in building a sustainable future.

Program Manager of Facilities Condition Assessment, Joseph Viterna, is in charge of applying for NYSERDA rewards at the University. Because of the University’s efforts to implement environmentally friendly practices on campus, NYSERDA has awarded the University significant financial incentives. Just this year, Central Utilities and Facilities and Services completed two large projects that yielded significant returns.

One of these endeavors for efficiency was The Dewey Hall Career Center Relocation Project. Previously, Dewey Hall used an old and inefficient air handler to provide the building’s heating and cooling. As part of the sustainable project, a new and more efficient Fanwall technology replaced the old system.

Viterna submitted the description of the effort to NYSERDA but was initially rejected. NYSERDA claimed the new technology did not include a certain feature on the fan that reduced the harmonic distortion to their minimum requirement for efficiency. However, knowing the efficiency of the new Fanwall technology, Viterna reached out to CHA, a design and engineering firm and energy advisor to Facilities, for their assistance to convince NYSERDA that the new technology installed was in fact both economical and efficient.

The persuasion was effective. NYSERDA requested a remote harmonics test of this new system. The Fanwall system passed and proved its efficiency; as a result the University received the full grant of $13,000. In the future, NYSERDA agreed to review individual cases for this incentive.

The next big project was to install three new electric chillers in the Middle Campus Chiller Plant due to the higher demands for cooling the Medical Center. Each chillers’ capacity is 2,670 tons. Because of their high efficiency, the project qualified for an additional super-efficient chiller bonus incentive. Two of the three chillers have variable speed drives, meaning that they change speeds based on the conditions and needs of the University, preventing unnecessary energy consumption. In addition to the new chillers, new cooling towers and a free-cooling system will be installed.

Ultimately, the project is expected to save 4,519,000 kWh of electrical energy per year! Because of this huge conservation impact, NYSERDA awarded the University an incentive of $1,008,997 for their efforts. Recently, the University received 60% of this total incentive for installing the chillers. For the remaining 40% NYSERDA is requiring a full year Measurement and Verification (M&V) of the estimated annual operating savings of approximately $360,000.

Other projects on campus have also received or are in the process of receiving NYSERDA funding. Most notably are the efforts to switch the lighting on campus from less efficient lights to LED lights. Replacing the lights in Wilson Commons and the lights of the Rush Rhees dome has already occurred, and it is likely many more locations will follow suit.


Written by Julie Elliot, Class of 2015


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