Johnson County Community College

Sustainable Energy

Johnson County Community College has challenged the Center for Sustainability reduce the college’s carbon footprint and the escalating cost of electricity. The campus is mostly powered by coal-fired energy with minimal use of natural gas (used exclusively in our culinary program). The solution hinges upon energy conservation as well as the implementation of renewable energy.

These efforts, branded as Powerswitch, have created a cost avoidance of almost $2 million in utility costs. Electrical usage is down by 25 percent since 2008, even though three new buildings were added to the campus.

Energy solutions include:

  • Upgrades to more efficient lighting. We have aggressively been changing out t-8 fluorescent lamps to LED lamps; so far we have switched over 18,000 lamps and fixtures all of which use at least half the energy.
  • Improved scheduling and controls. Housekeeping services, once performed during late-evening and late-night hours, are now completed during the day so building temperatures can be adjusted to save energy overnight. Most classrooms, restrooms and office areas are now fitted with motion-sensor shut-off switches, and more will be installed across campus.
  • Retro commissioning (2016-2017). Otherwise known as tuning a building for optimal efficiency, this ongoing large project involves the analysis of how the building is currently operating in regards to the HVAC system and the condition of all of its components. Then engineers work to determine what needs replaced, fixed and tweaked to bring the building to its optimal operation. In this case, we will be replacing air control systems, rebalancing the way the cooling system works and creating better controls for automating the operation of the buildings.
  • Upgrades to heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC). The college earmarked $565,000 in general funds to repair, replace or repower the HVAC system in the college’s original buildings. Since the buildings are linked by central system, upgrades needed to be well orchestrated and coordinated in phases.
  • Education leading to behavior change. Through the coordinated efforts of the Center for Sustainability and the Student Sustainability Committee, the college community has learned simple but effective behaviors for energy reduction, including powering off equipment during three-day weekends and longer breaks and switching from energy-sapping space heaters to eco-friendly foot warmers.

We currently have 153kW of photovoltaic solar power throughout campus which includes the recent addition of 116kW atop the Hospitality and Culinary Academy. Wherever possible, we integrated these projects with student learning opportunities.

The electrical technology program has a requirement for students to learn about photovoltaic installation, and they get hands-on experience at our Solar Learning Lab, which has varied technologies associated to solar power. One creation that has come from this learning lab is our campus’s solar charging tables.

For fiscal year 2015-16, JCCC had a 10 percent decrease in electricity usage from the prior fiscal year. Refer to our energy conservation data