6 BATTLE OF THE BUILDINGS APRIL 17, 2017
Western Michigan University Health and Human Services 1ST PLACE • BIGGEST LOSER IN EDUCATION CATEGORY Western Michigan University’s Health and Human Services building is a very busy place. The 242,000 square-foot facility delivers programs such as nursing; physician assistants; speech, language and hearing sciences; and occupational therapy. Over the 2016 year, the College of Health and Human Services secured over 6.3 million dollars in research funding. More than any other college on campus according Joel Krauss, Marketing Specialist Sr. for WMU CHHS. The building originally earned
LEED Gold certification for Existing Buildings in 2009, WMU’s first LEED certification. It was also the first LEED-EB in Michigan and for a higher education institution in Michigan. “Retro-commissioning in 2015 really kicked off the energy conversation process in this building,” says DeVon Caprice-Miller, Building Commissioning Specialist for WMU. “We identified the no cost/low cost enhancements that could be made and preceded with those.” For example, the building originally ran two heat exchangers simultaneously; now only one runs while the other remains on standby, a strategy considered significant in reducing energy use. WMU also sought to inspire behavioral changes among building occupants. “We did a walk-through assessment, surveyed occupants, reviewed and implemented our policies around energy use in the building,” explains Christopher Caprara, Energy Administration Specialist for WMU. His team used the findings to create educational workshops for
tenants, along with informational signage placed throughout the facility. These efforts likely contributed to the 17.24 percent reduction in energy use that secured the building’s leadership position in the Education category of the 2016 Michigan Battle of the Buildings competition. As healthcare industry workers, “the students and staff in this building get it, they understand the impacts of their indoor environment and climate change,” Caprara says, “so implementing behavior changes in this particular building may be easier than most.” WMU also utilizes Consumer Energy’s Smart Building Program, available to the utility’s electric or natural gas customers. Eligible facilities must have at least 75,000 square feet of space with a building automation system, direct digital controls, and a dedicated maintenance staff. Building administrators must also be willing to commit to initial assessment costs and at least $5,000 worth of facility improvements with quick paybacks of less
than 1.5 years. The program then provides building owners with incentives to implement upgrades designed to reduce energy usage. Western Michigan University owns its power plant. The Robert M. Beam facility’s two 5-MW gas turbines provide energy to the university’s east and west campuses, as well as the Kalamazoo Psychiatric Hospital. In the 1990s, the plant
underwent major renovations to switch from coal to natural gas, making it both energy-efficient and cost-effective, and resulting in savings of thousands of dollars each year. This is the third year that WMU’s Health and Human Service Building has participated in the Michigan Battle of the Buildings, so the lesson is never give up!
Holland Public Schools – Holland High School 2ND PLACE • BIGGEST LOSER IN EDUCATION CATEGORY This is the second year the Holland Public Schools has participated in the Michigan Battle of the Buildings, and the district is no stranger to winning: Holland High School took second in the 2015 Michigan Battle of the Buildings. The school system includes retro-commissioning among its energy improvement strategies. “We have found it very beneficial to do retro-commissioning on our buildings,” says Jason MacKay, Director of Facilities. “The process pays for itself in no time.” Retrocommissioning can often identify and resolve problems that occurred
during a newer building’s design or construction phase; it can also address problems that have developed during the building’s lifetime as equipment has aged, or its usage has changed. Holland Public Schools works closely with Midwest Energy Group, a consulting firm that specializes in energy management and efficiency, to retro-commission its buildings and prioritize potential projects. Holland Public West, a K-7 school, placed second this year in Battle of the Buildings’ education building category. MacKay attributed most of the building’s ener-
gy savings to resolving an issue with the air handler motors, which were old and running most of the time. The problem was fixed and controls were added for improved system management, resulting in energy savings of 16.81 percent and a second-place finish in Battle of the Buildings. Lighting upgrades have been made throughout the district, notably the conversion to T8 fluorescent lamps from the obsolete T12 model, along with the addition of LED technology. K-12 school systems can take advantage of utility company incentives, something Holland Public does through working with its utility services, Holland BPW for electric power and SEMCO for natural gas. Once potential projects have been identified, the district engages the services of an outside contractor to complete the work.
“The hope is to build more expertise in the department so projects can be implemented by our team members,” says MacKay. The nine-building Holland Public School system is in the midst of several efficiency upgrades, including the replacement of chillers and lighting improvements. “We
are proud of the effort that everyone has made to become more energy efficient,” MacKay says. “It is a big deal to be named a winner of Michigan Battle of the Buildings, and something our students, staff and community can rally around and be motivated by to do more.”
Barfly Ventures – Grand Rapids Brewing Company 1ST PLACE • BIGGEST LOSER IN ENTERTAINMENT/HOTEL/RESTAURANT CATEGORY Major investments into energy efficient equipment or systems are not always necessary to reduce significant amounts of energy usage. BarFly Ventures is a prime example of that. The Grand Rapids-based restaurant/bar company manages 4 locations, including HopCat, Grand Rapids Brewing Company, Stella’s and Waldron. Additionally, BarFly has opened eleven HopCat restaurants outside of the West Michigan area, with plans to open four more within the next year. This is BarFly’s second year competing in Battle of the Buildings, and this year Grand Rapids Brewing
Company rose to the top in savings. Engaging the management team at each location to be cognizant of their restaurant’s energy and water usage, and find simple ways to reduce was key. BarFly took a unique approach to reducing its energy usage by starting a conversation with its employees about being aware of the energy they use. Staff and management took actions to adjust temperature settings more efficiently, and to establish procedures for opening and closing the restaurants in order to ensure that lights and equipment were not used unnec-
essarily. These initiatives reduced Grand Rapids Brewing Company’s energy usage by 8.5 percent in the 2016 calendar year, with very little investment in energy-efficient equipment and systems. The process, however, was not a cake walk. Restaurant lighting must be on most of the day, even for the cleaners at night. Furthermore, trying to efficiently monitor and adjust temperatures can be difficult, especially when considering the steady flow of restaurant guests in and out of each location. Finding a system that works for Grand Rapids Brewing Company, its staff and its valued customers was a challenge, admits BarFly Sustainability Manager Autumn Sands. “Sustainability initiatives, as a whole, are rare in the restaurant industry,” she says. BarFly is up for the challenge of breaking new ground when it comes to being green. Reducing energy waste is as important as investing in more ener-
gy-efficient equipment, and much less costly. BarFly is looking to invest in bigger projects, including installing LED lighting in all heart of house areas, and installing Energy Star equipment. “We are really excited
that our small changes have made an impact,” Sands acknowledges. “This sets the tone for the future, as energy use becomes a fundamental consideration within our business. There is still a lot of work to do.”