No funds to update your campus infrastructure? See what Samford and Johnson Controls worked out

by Brianna Crandall — April 19, 2017 — Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, is partnering with Johnson Controls to complete a campus-wide performance infrastructure and conservation project that is expected to generate $51 million in savings over 20 years, while reducing the school’s overall carbon footprint, energy usage and water consumption — all with no extra funding.

The $31 million improvement plan was made possible through an energy savings performance contract (ESPC) signed last fall. The utility and operational savings from the energy conservation measures are guaranteed to cover the costs of the work without the need for additional funding or capital expenditures.

The two-year construction schedule includes conservation enhancements in virtually every area of the campus. Major elements include:

  • New smart building automation systems;
  • An advanced automation chilled water plant to cool buildings more efficiently and improve occupant comfort;
  • Extensive indoor and outdoor LED lighting retrofits and lighting controls upgrades;
  • High-quality windows;
  • Rainwater harvesting for irrigation; and
  • Additional HVAC, electrical and mechanical work.

Andrew Westmoreland, president of Samford University, explained:

The financial arrangement provided by Johnson Controls ensures the cost of the projects are paid through the energy savings achieved over the contract term. In the process, we will provide a cleaner, safer environment, reduce energy expenses, reduce our carbon output and accomplish considerable improvements to many of our facilities in a fiscally responsible manner.

The infrastructure upgrades are part of Samford’s recently updated campus master plan and represent the university’s ongoing commitment to sustainability. Under the direction of Colin Coyne, chief strategy officer for Samford University, the project will impact the links between campus infrastructure decisions, perceptions of institutional integrity and student retention. Mark Fuller, director of Facilities Management, was the genesis of the project when he identified an inherent need to improve the central energy plant and provide resilience and energy savings, but was faced with competing capital priorities.

Maureen Blase, region general manager at Johnson Controls, pointed out:

Campus facilities have a major influence in the overall student experience, but it can often be challenging for schools and universities to fund these endeavors. We have a long history helping schools overcome these financial challenges, using energy performance contracts to enable more than 3,000 major performance infrastructure projects in North America alone. We’re excited to be working with Samford University on this effort as part of the school’s comprehensive master plan and stewardship of resources.