PowerLight Solar PV Helps Secure Building Award

A unique combination of energy efficient measures such as cooling systems, lighting control, window glazing, and a 106 kW solar array in the remodeling of Salazar Hall on the Sonoma State University campus has earned the building project a national award for energy efficiency.

Rohnert Park, California – December 5, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] 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 on November 14, 2003. The awards recognize innovations in building management and energy efficiency that provide unique building solutions and also achieve significant energy and cost savings. “The judges look for projects that go beyond what is required by the State,” says Energy User News editor Kevin Heslin. “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. The building features of the largest solar electric systems in the region, covering 9,500 square feet of rooftop with 1200 panels. The 106 kW solar electric system was furnished by PowerLight Corporation of Northern California. The building uses 42 percent 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 championed much of 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 percent 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 improved so dramatically that Marchando hopes it can prove that there will be savings in reduced sick leave 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 the photovoltaic system is the most visible of the energy conservation projects, the evaporative cooling application is a truly innovative measure. The two-stage cooling application adds approximately $350,000 to the project, but Sonoma State believes that 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 said. SSU’s solar powered system also has significant environmental benefits. 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.


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