Getting Started: Approaching And Funding Smart Improvements In Higher ED Facilities

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Russell Garcia, Director, Higher Education, North America

Samford University, in Homewood, Alabama, recently embarked on a $31 million improvement plan that will fund conservation enhancements in virtually every area of the campus. The two-year project includes the installation of new smart building automation systems; an advanced automation chilled water plant to cool buildings more efficiently and improve occupant comfort; extensive indoor and outdoor LED lighting retrofits and lighting controls upgrades; high-quality windows; rainwater harvesting for irrigation; and additional heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC), electrical and mechanical work.

In addition to supplying performance infrastructure and technology solutions that support the university’s ongoing commitment to sustainability, Johnson Controls helped Samford develop a plan, identifying problem areas, including deferred maintenance, and aligning solutions with the goals of campus stakeholders.

The company also helped fund the $31 million project using contingent payment financing. At a time when capital investment is often inadequate for projects of this size, contingent payment financing guarantees that facility upgrades will deliver specified water and energy savings over a fixed period of time, providing a funding source for improvements that offsets their cost. Risk is mitigated with payback tied to performance.

As colleges and universities focus on aging infrastructure and outdated technologies, the need to reduce operational costs and create smart learning environments emerges as a common theme. Commitments to reduce emissions also concern administrators as they work to create efficient, environmentally friendly campuses that will attract and retain students.
The expectation to do more with less requires administrators to consider additional funding options, including energy performance contracts (EPC), public-private partnerships (P3), property assessed clean energy financing and equipment finance agreements. These options are already addressing budget shortfalls and helping colleges and universities improve infrastructure and operational efficiencies, reduce their environmental impact and create smart learning and living environments that will continue to attract and retain students.

As Samford University demonstrates, the results can be remarkable. The campus-wide performance infrastructure and conservation project is expected to generate $51 million in energy and operational savings over 20 years, while reducing the school’s overall carbon footprint by more than 150 tons of CO2, decreasing water consumption on campus by more than 20 million gallons and cutting utility costs by 33 percent.

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Russell Garcia, Director, Higher Education, North America
Russell joined Johnson Controls in September 2007 as an account representative for the Sacramento service branch. In his current role, he is responsible for growing the higher education market for SSNA. Russ earned his MBA, BA, and is a doctoral candidate at Brandman University.
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Contact us at 855-978-6872, and begin creating smart learning environments students are proud to attend. johnsoncontrols.com/hied
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