The Technology, Design, and Safety (TDS) Center at Keene State College continues to prove that there are both expected and unexpected benefits to energy efficiency, the latest of which is a $150,000 rebate, awarded by the Public Service of NH (PSNH).
According to the PSNH website, the program offers incentives for installing energy efficient equipment in areas such as lighting and ventilation.
By installing better heating, ventilation, lighting and air conditioning in the new TDS Center, the college qualified for the PSNH rebate. On top of earning the rebate, the equipment will cut down on the building’s energy costs over the years.
Diana Duffy, the coordinator of energy services at Keene State College, confirmed that this is “the largest rebate PSNH will issue in any one year. It’s the maximum amount any commercial customer can get.”
This sizable rebate will be invested into what the college is referring to as “Phase 2” of the TDS Center. The KSC website states that the completion of phase 2 will see the roof of the center covered in 20,000 square feet of photovoltaic solar panels.
Colin Burdick, the clerk of the works on the project, said of the intended array, “It was always a design part of it (the TDS Center). They wanted to do this project really pushing the fact that eventually there would be a solar array on there.”
Burdick confirmed that construction of the photovoltaic array is set to begin over spring break with the first goal being to erect 40 percent of the full intended array. As for construction of the other 60 percent, the timetable will depend on when and how funds become available.
For the first 40 percent of the planned array Burdick said, “We just got a schedule not too long ago. We’re looking at about mid-June for everything, start up, commissioning, inspections, sign offs. Until it’s fully functioning and actually working, probably mid to late June.”
Burdick estimates the array will provide 120 kilowatts; roughly 15 percent of the building’s total projected output but was quick to admit that these are only projections.
Duffy pointed out, “We haven’t gotten metering data on that building yet, so soon we should have live information as to how much it’s using which will be helpful for us to say, okay here’s how much it’s really using compared to how much they said it would on paper.”
Burdick stated that the array is being installed by the locally based Melanson Company and its sister company, Solar Source.
Melanson will install the aluminum rails while Solar Source will provide the approximately 532 solar panels, opting for Panasonic HIT 240 watts, a higher output panel that Burdick vouched for. “For the money it was the right way to go. You get more bang for your buck.”
The Melanson Company, responsible for roofing of the TDS center, announced through their website that their work on the center has been recognized by RoofPoint, a green rating system similar to LEED, created by the center for Environmental Innovation in Roofing.
RoofPoint’s official website describes their goal as “RoofPoint provides a simple, transparent and professional measure to ensure that new and replacement roof systems are designed, installed and maintained in accordance with the best sustainable practices available today.”
Asked if a successful array on the TDS Center might encourage the college to consider photovoltaics for its other building, Diana Duffy said, “It’s something we should look at.
And it all depends on the basic stuff. Can the roofs handle the additional load, weight-wise? Some of them were designed for that. And what’s the arrangement going to be? Is Keene State going to buy them? Is KSC going to own them? Is KCS going to lease the space to someone else who’s going to buy them, install them, and then we just get a lower rate on something?
We don’t have the cash right now to do this on a bigger scale. But that doesn’t mean other people might not be interested in that. So stay tuned.”
According to Donna Paley, an architecture professor at KSC, the photovoltaic array “is one of the critical set of points that we have to achieve in order to get to the highest level of LEED.”
The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) building program rewards certificates to buildings that meet their criteria.
By adhering to LEED standards companies should end up with a building like the TDS Center which raises the bar for energy efficient designs
LEED certifications are awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). According to the USGBC website, they are a nonprofit organization committed to “prosperous and sustainable future for our nation through cost-efficient and energy-saving green building.”
The TDS Center expects to receive the platinum LEED certificate, which is the highest certificate possible. “That package has just been completed and submitted. You don’t typically do that until after you have been occupying the building,” Paley said about the TDS Center’s LEED application.
Ultimately the goal of the TDS Center is to be a net zero building, Burdick said. This means that the building does not consume any more energy that it produces. The TDS Center has not reached that goal but that is nothing to be ashamed of, Burdick stated.
“It was an aggressive design call but one that shouldn’t be scoffed at. I mean all buildings should at least try to have that in mind. We want to be net zero and make that commitment. Over here, with the PV array, they’ve stuck by that commitment which is great to see.”
The TDS Center is now entering its second semester as an academic building on the college campus. The 53,000 square foot property, located on Winchester Street, constructed from the ashes of both Butterfield Hall and the Adams Technology Center.
Zack Pearson can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org