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Narrative Supporting the Flex Your Power Award Application

September 16, 2005

The three Colleges of the San Mateo County Community College District serve more than 40,000 students each year and offer the first two years of instruction in a wide variety of transfer programs as well as more than 90 vocational-technical programs. Students can earn either Associate in Arts or Science degrees or receive Certificates of Proficiency in their chosen fields.

Our college campuses were constructed between 36 and 42 years ago. The mechanical and electrical service systems had exceeded their useful service life, they were inefficient, and their aged condition left many system components inoperable – resulting in uncomfortable and ineffective learning and working environments for students, faculty and staff. In 2002, the District began implementing a package of energy efficiency measures, including lighting retrofits, mechanical system repairs and replacements, a digital control system, and conversion to variable speed pumping and fan systems. T he annual operating cost savings including utility cost savings, maintenance costs, and operational savings are estimated in excess of $1 million.

Another benefit of these initiatives has been an improved learning and working environment in classrooms, lecture halls, laboratories, physical education and sports facilities, and offices. The lighting retrofits, while reducing electricity consumption, has also resulted in improved light distribution for improved safety and reduced eye strain, as well as improved color rendition for more natural interior lighting. Indoor air quality has improved via enhanced air circulation and filtration, accurate digital control of air quality parameters such as temperature and humidity, and elimination of moisture leaks that might support the growth of molds and mildews.

In 2005, the District began construction of a new science building at College of San Mateo; the design of this building includes efficient heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems, occupancy and daylight sensors for lighting control, high efficiency windows and a cool roof – all resulting in a building that is 42% more energy efficient than required by California’s building code. Other new buildings also currently under construction include the Skyline College Student Union, which is 28% more energy efficient than called for by California’s building code, and Cañada College’s Library and Student Resource Center, which is 30% more efficient than required by code. In addition, the District has converted seven athletic fields to synthetic turf – resulting in irrigation water savings of 5.8 million gallons ($370,000/year), safer playing surfaces for our athletes, and extended hours of use per day.

In order to reduce demand on the State’s power grid, the District installed two co-generation units which generate 56.5% of our peak electricity needs on-site more efficiently and cleanly than utility company generation, and the waste heat is captured and used in our central heating system – reducing the load on our central heating plant. Self-generation of power has reduced our annual electric grid consumption by over 6,700,000 kilowatt-hours, the equivalent of approximately 1,800 residences. In addition, the digital controls system, together with the newly installed UtilityVision energy information system, allows the District to shed or shift demand for improved load management.

The District has received over $900,000 in energy rebates for its lighting retrofit and cogeneration system initiatives, and expects to receive an additional $100,000 in incentives for energy efficient design of its new buildings. In addition, the District has received over $750,000 in State support for its energy efficiency measures.

The San Mateo County Community College District embodies the philosophy of the Flex Your Power program, by demonstrating economic leadership with over $1,000,000 in net annual operating cost avoidance through energy efficiency measures, by demonstrating environmental stewardship through reduction of reliance on the State’s power grid, clean self-generation of electricity and use of the waste heat, and with our demonstrated commitment to constructing energy efficient new buildings.

Facilities Planning & Operations
Phone: (650) 574-6512
Fax: (650) 574-6574

San Mateo County Community College District
3401 CSM Drive
San Mateo CA 94402


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