Wittenberg will possibly be saving thousands of dollars, as well as become a more energy efficient campus, after a water-based air conditioning system located in the basement of Recitation Hall was recently replaced for a more energy-efficient air conditioning system.
The air conditioning system that previously cooled the computer room and servers in the basement of Recitation was a water-based cooling system and is the most water-intensive piece of equipment on campus, according to Director of Physical Plant John Paulsen.
“The air conditioning that cooled that room was a water-based cooling system that uses city water,” said Paulsen. “It was very expensive.”
The water-based cooling system is estimated to consume the equivalent of almost six buildings and cost Wittenberg on average $3,029 more a month than the main computer server, located in Synod Hall, which is already run by an energy-efficient system.
Wittenberg budgets $234,298 a year for water utilities, and the water-based cooling air conditioning system in Recitation annually costs $36,351. After the installation of an energy-efficient system, Wittenberg will be saving approximately 16% on its annual water utility budget.
“Physical plant oversaw the installation of the residential air conditioning unit a few weeks ago,” said Paulsen. “We haven’t received a bill yet, so we aren’t sure if we’ve saved.”
Professor John Ritter, Chair of the Geology Department, and sophomore Meredith Zajac plan to begin tracking the changes in water use prior to and following the replacement of the cooling system beginning in the fall of 2011. Ritter and Zajac will measure the magnitude of water and cost savings associated with the replacement, and use their data to publicize campus use of water resources and assess the potential for water savings associated with other campus processes. They will also create a data set to be used by students in Geology 160 to examine the campus hydrologic system.
“This will save the University from having to buy and treat the water used to run this water-based cooling system.” said Ritter.
Ritter and Zajac recently submitted a loan fund proposal to the campus Sustainability Fund, to help finance the research that will be conducted for this replacement. Ritter and Zajac explained the environmental impact that the water-based cooling system has on the surrounding Springfield area by stating that with the elimination of the water-based cooling system, Wittenberg will not only reduce its water use but it will reduce the amount of wastewater that flows into the surrounding Buck Creek.