Campus: Sonoma State University -- November 24, 2003

Salazar Hall Remodel Wins National Award For Energy Efficiency

A unique system of low-energy cooling, lighting control, high-efficiency glazing, and photo-voltaics in the remodeling of Salazar Hall on the Sonoma State University campus has earned the building project a national award for energy efficiency.

Energy User News honored the former campus library remodeling project at its 2003 Energy Efficient Building Awards ceremony held during the World Energy Engineering Congress of the Association of Energy Engineers in Atlanta, Georgia recently.

The awards recognize innovations in building management and energy efficiency, in either retrofits or new construction throughout North America, that provide unique building solutions and also achieve significant energy and cost savings. The Salazar project was judged in the educational facilities category.

"The judges look for projects that go beyond what is required by the State," says Energy User News editor Kevin Hanlin. "not just those that picked the low-hanging fruit."

The remodel of Salazar Hall made the former university library one of the most energy efficient public buildings in northern California. It has one of the largest solar panel grids in the region covering 9,500 square feet with 1200 panels.

The building uses 42% less energy than required by the State's Title 24 Building Standards. Such energy savings is enough to power 80 residences.

Campus project engineer Keith Marchando has given much of the credit for the innovative mix of design features in the building. Marchando worked with the architects and engineers to develop a unique application utilizing the proven technology of direct and indirect evaporative cooling, powering the fans and pumps with solar energy.

In the past year, this system has provided conditioned air to 120,000 sq. ft of classroom and office building space with almost no mechanical cooling required, reducing by 70% the cost of operations as compared to a traditional efficient mechanical cooling system.

The Salazar project is currently being studied by the Lawrence Livermore Lab in Berkeley which has been documenting the performance of the building since January.

The $20 million dollar project includes a denser occupancy of offices, classrooms and high-tech laboratories than its original use. Indoor air quality in the building is so improved with 100% fresh air constantly circulating through the building that Marchando hopes it can prove that there will be savings in reduced sick time taken by employees who work there. Industry experts believe that improved air quality in buildings can save up to $400 per year per employee in untapped sick leave.

While photo-voltaics are the most obvious of the energy conservation measures in this project, the evaporative cooling application is a truly innovative measure. The two-stage cooling application adds approximately $350,000 to the project, but Sonoma State engineers report the design reduces peak load by almost 400 tons on the hottest days.

Campus architect Bruce Walker says the project will pay back the investment in the mechanical equipment in five years or less of energy savings. "This project was not conceived to simply reduce utility costs, but to provide a valuable opportunity for Sonoma State University to explore the viability of alternative energy," Walker says.

By avoiding the purchase of fossil fuel-generated electricity, SSU's solar powered system spares the environment from thousands of tons of harmful emissions such as carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and sulfur dioxide. Over the 25-year life of the system, it is estimated that these emissions reductions are equivalent to planting 24 acres of trees or removing 400 cars from California highways.

Earlier this year, the project won the 2003 Technology Award for Institutional Buildings from both the local and regional American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers. The project is currently under consideration for this prestigious award at the national level next year.

Media contact: Jean Wasp, Media Relations, (707) 664-2057


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