SRJC was one of the first colleges in California to institute a broad conservation program and continues to serve as a model energy saving institution to many other community colleges. SRJC’s ongoing commitment to sustainability has increased environmental conservation while reducing operational costs.
An energy audit of the College was performed in 1983 with state and PG&E funds. The audit resulted in a 32-volume report with many recommendations for improving efficiency and reducing costs. SRJC quickly began undertaking the report's recommendations. One of the first projects, which was completed in 1985, was the installation of an Energy Management System (EMS) that would control the mechanical systems and site lighting in all college buildings and facilities from a computer terminal in SRJC’s central Maintenance Office. By 1990, almost all of of the other recommended measures in the audit were completed including: chiller efficiency upgrades, site lighting efficiency, interior lighting efficiency upgrades and many others. The only remaining recommendation was to upgrade interior lighting with new technology but unfortunately, at the time, that new technology proved to be unreliable. As time passed and the technology became more dependable and costs improved, interior lighting improvements were immediately achieved, which generated a three-year payback for an annual savings of $125,000.
SRJC capitalizes on its effective practices of conservation, updating energy efficient facilities and systems, and installing cutting edge energy saving measures. Over the years, SRJC also initiated many conservation and cost reduction measures, including the following examples of our proactive approach:
- Installation of a cogeneration plant in the Quinn Swim Center to supply hot water and chilled water to numerous buildings, generating $80,000 worth of electricity annually as a by-product and providing a five-year payback to the college. The plant has been upgraded to produce $100,000 worth of electricity annually, which qualified the College for a PG&E rebate of $160,000.
- SRJC negotiated a favorable electricity rate with PG&E called a curtailable rate, saving between $70,000 and $150,000 in utility costs annually for many years. The College now buys electricity on the open market at significant savings.
- The College hired a utility billing consultant to review all monthly utility bills for errors, incorrect rates, taxes, and fees. As a result, the consultant then assisted the entire California Community College system, negotiating a new rate for irrigation water usage that greatly reduced the cost of water; with SRJC averaging an annual savings $70,000.
- SRJC is a founding member of School Project for Utility Rate Reduction (SPURR), a consortium of community colleges and K-12 districts that spearheaded utility deregulation in California. SRJC is among the first community colleges to purchase natural gas on the open market, saving the college significant funds. The formation of SPURR encouraged PG&E to lower gas rates in response to SPURR’s competitive buying program. Currently, SRJC uses PG&E for pipeline transmission, but buys the actual gas commodity through SPURR to save 3 to 5 percent annually, compared to PG&E costs.
- Since completing a lighting system upgrade several years ago, the College installed interior lighting motion sensors that turn building lights off when rooms are unoccupied for more than 10 minutes. The College receives a significant rebate for this approach. More sensors continue to be installed.
- A new, high efficiency boiler system was installed in the Quinn Swim Center complex, and additional boilers were installed in eight other buildings in summer 2006-07.
- “Cool roofs” are being installed on each flat roofed building as buildings are being reroofed.