Florida A&M university doubles down on energy efficiency with Siemens performance contract

Friday, June 01, 2012

Florida A&M University (FAMU) has chosen Siemens to implement a $12.2 million performance contract that will save the historically black college and university (HBCU) approximately $1.2 million in equivalent guaranteed annual energy savings. In 2009, FAMU engaged Siemens to deliver Phase 1, a $2.4 million project that successfully introduced the energy efficiency and financial benefits of performance contracting to the school.

Much broader in scope than Phase 1, Phase 2 aims to partially decentralize FAMU’s obsolete central steam plant heating system—an element of the overall project that will put local contractors to work and prompt a local mechanical systems company on the project to hire several additional employees to do the job.

“Our first project with Siemens gave us the opportunity to see first hand the financial and operational effectiveness of performance contracting,” said FAMU President James H. Ammons. “We are moving forward with Phase 2—a project that will yield tremendous energy savings and support campus sustainability measures far into the future.”

Florida A&M University (FAMU)

The 18-month project which began in May includes a multitude of facility infrastructure improvements including the steam system infrastructure renovation, an advanced solar-thermal heating system for the swimming pool, central chilled water and steam plant improvements, building automation improvements and ventilation and dehumidification improvements for the library.

Because plans call for partial decentralization of the steam heating plant and the implementation of other facility improvement measures to campus’ buildings, energy savings will be dramatic. For example, natural gas consumption will be reduced 42.6 percent which represents an annual equivalent savings of $706,204. Electricity consumption will be reduced 12.1 percent, creating some $563,909 in equivalent cost savings on top of reductions and savings that came from implementing Phase 1.

Siemens longstanding experience delivering performance contracts to institutions of higher education served to boost the confidence of school officials rightly anxious about the ambitions of the project. “On many levels Siemens worked with the FAMU facilities personnel to help them understand that other universities with similar campus profiles in the southern United States have successfully decentralized their steam systems,” said Dave Hopping, vice president and building automation business unit lead for Siemens Building Technologies. “We worked closely with these schools so FAMU officials could see for themselves how well these improvements can work to increase efficiency.”

The Tallahassee, Fla. Campus, which encompasses 156 buildings and some 3.9 million square feet, is home to 13,284 students and the largest HBCU in the country. As mentioned, the scope of the project is far reaching. Over the 18-month project, 21 area boilers will be installed in individual buildings. According to FAMU administrators, just a small portion of the steam plant project would have required a capital budget expense of more than $5 million—a cost that FAMU would simply not be able to bear without the financial support of the Siemens performance contract. As it stood, the entire steam system was running at a high rate of pressure just to serve one building. Installing area boilers at the dorms and science buildings enables the university to shut down the steam system during the warm-weather months (six months each year). Other improvements include chiller plant optimization via Siemens Demand Flow optimization software which will increase chilled water system efficiency and capacity.

To ensure central command and control of the majority of campus facilities Siemens building automation systems are being installed in 14 buildings (one third of the buildings on campus) This integration will support efficient operations and provide energy consumption transparency through an energy management control platform—technologies that will support and sustain FAMU’s educational mission far into the future.

Steven Kuehn