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“Greening” an institution of higher education takes dedicated staff on the ground to make it happen. Itawamba Community College in Northeast Mississippi provided The Green Register with some wonderful personal examples of staff members who are working every day to make Itawamba a green and sustainable college. They also provided us with information on how they have transformed lighting on their campus, saving the institution tens of thousands of dollars.
Many thanks to Donna Thomas, at Itawamba for the following profiles and information.
The use of eco-friendly products is important at Itawamba Community College, especially to housekeeping supervisor Jerene Fikes, who must ensure maximum use of resources.
All types of general cleaners that ICC uses for floors, restrooms, tables or any surface are Green Seal-certified, which promotes sustainability. “They break down dirt so that if you clean, it’s clean,” he explained. “There is nowhere for germs to live so you don’t have to use a disinfectant. There’s no residue, nowhere to leave germs.”
In addition, Fikes said that window washing utilizes a no-chemical system and water, which “does a good job. We use long poles to reach both inside and out, and there is no streaking.”
Other sustainability efforts include 100 percent recyclable and biodegradable towels and tissues in the bathrooms and recyclable and green outside mats, Fikes said.
A steam cleaning system uses water and no chemicals to allow for deep cleaning in the restrooms. “That is about as green as you can get.”
Thomas Bonds, director of ICC’s physical plant, said that ICC’s housekeepers use a premix system, which currently saves the College about 30 percent. “We can probably cut another 10 percent since we are using ionized water and steam cleaning. Every time we save money, we save shipping and reduce the number of bottles and pasteboard boxes that are thrown away.”
In addition, the department also saves by turning off lights in storage rooms, classrooms and offices that are not being used; reporting water leaks; using a microfiber mopping system which uses less water and buying tissues and can liners in bulk.
JOHN WAYNE HARRIS
Itawamba Community College’s John Wayne Harris, energy systems manager, has been certified as a Master Operator by Siemens, the only non-Siemens employee in the state to achieve that status.
A partnership with Siemens enables the college to utilize technology in such areas as the programming of its heating and cooling system to ensure constant temperatures, both winter and summer.
To achieve certification, Harris attended three week-long classes. He learned how to conserve energy by adjusting heating and cooling temperatures at times when facilities and rooms were unoccupied.
Harris said that he learned how to build on the existing graphic interface of the entire college. Information covered included everything from how thermostats work, how humidity affects basic Siemens programming and how to read the programs. Harris said that he utilizes the technology to “see what the temperature is in a particular room” at any of the College’s three locations – Fulton, Tupelo and Belden.
“In the second class, I learned open protocol communication,” Harris said, “how the software can pull in information from other devices and different manufacturers.”
The third class provided instruction in learning every kind of building fill panel, mainly the most popular thermostats and how to tie the wiring back to the fill panel and getting it into the work station.
ICC, which entered into a 13-year $2.2 million energy management contract with Siemens in 2005, has already saved $3 million in energy costs.
Itawamba Community College has changed every ballast and light at all three of its locations to achieve better efficiency, according to Thomas Bonds, director of its physical plant.
A custom incentive program from the Tennessee Valley Association has made possible the upgrade in lighting, Bonds said.
In addition, the College is installing wireless occupancy sensors, beginning at the Fulton Campus, to turn off lights in areas that are not occupied for 15 minutes including classrooms, hallways, offices, mechanical rooms and storage closets. “When the teacher enters the room, he/she will turn on the lights,” Bonds said. There is also a customizable option that can make classroom lights turn on automatically. The sensors are easily installed with no invasive construction.
He estimated that ICC is saving 90 percent on labor with the devices being installed by members of the maintenance staff. “TVA will pay back between 40 and 50 percent of the original cost for materials,” Bonds said.
New fixtures with dimmable ballasts have also been installed in stairwells, Bonds said, which will save the College about 90 percent in energy costs. When no one is in the stairwell, the lights dim to 10 percent of the light level. Motion sensors restore the light to full power when someone enters the area. “In addition to the energy savings, it’s also a matter of safety.”
With wireless sensors, the College can also save during the daylight. “If a classroom has windows, a daylight sensor determines how much light is coming in and can dim down in zones,” Bonds said. So far, ICC has converted the Natural Science Building at the Fulton Campus to this system and the Boggs Humanities Building will be next. “We anticipate at least a 30 percent savings on lighting with daylight harvesting. The sensors will dim lights closer to the windows for less energy requirement. The initiative will allow us to individually control the fixtures.”
Also, the college is re-metering its sports fields and separating buildings since Tombigbee Electric Power Association has a much lower rate for athletic facilities provided the lights are metered separately, Bonds said. In one year it is estimated that ICC will save $30,000.
Photos Courtesy of Jerene Fikes of Itawamba Community College