Academy renovations will save at least $6.7 million

Academy renovations will save at least $6.7 million

WOODSTOCK, VA. — Six campus buildings — Benchoff, Harrison, Lantz and Warehime Halls, the Cook & Kitchin Dining Hall and the Memorial Gymnasium — at Massanutten Military Academy (MMA) here are currently undergoing HVAC renovations through a Bundled Energy Solutions project by Linc Services LLC, which will decrease the academy’s energy consumption overall, plus, create a more comfortable living and working environment for students, staff and faculty. The project is forecast to save MMA more than $6.7 million in energy and operational costs over the course of 15 years.

Renovations will vary among the buildings, which house mostly classrooms, labs and dormitories, including installing new heating and cooling systems, centralized control systems and re-commissioning some of the current systems.

“We are very excited about this solution and know it can make a significant and long-term impact for Massanutten Military Academy,” said Jeffrey Buennemeyer, Linc Services vice president, Mid-Atlantic. “With work beginning immediately, a majority of the upgrades are scheduled to be complete by the end of 2010. Students and faculty will begin seeing the benefits of the project right away.

“The retrofits are pretty substantial,” added Buennemeyer. “We are reducing the heat loads in facilities and installing automatic control systems, so the buildings are maintained at optimal temperatures.”

Renovating historic halls

Benchoff Hall, which was constructed in the 1890s, contains classrooms, offices and dormitories and has never utilized a central HVAC system, only some window air conditioning units and a fuel oil boiler to heat domestic water. Mitsubishi CITY MULTI Minisplits R2 Series will be installed and connected to a new centralized control system, the Mitsubishi MNet, allowing school staff to monitor and control the system. Plus, natural gas tankless water heaters by Noritz will be installed for domestic hot water.

According to Justin Brewer, the project engineer, the new centralized control system will allow for precise control of the space temperatures.

The Memorial Gymnasium, which has gone without air conditioning since the day it was built, has always relied on a fuel oil-fired boiler along with a propane water heater to heat the building and water. Soon new natural gas and high-efficiency outdoor air handling units for heating and cooling will be installed. The outdoor air units will be complete with demand control ventilation that constantly monitors the carbon dioxide levels to ensure the proper amount of outside air is brought into the space.

“We have been able to add air conditioning into this 110-year-old building as well as the gym while decreasing energy costs by more than 50%,” said Buennemeyer. “It’s a challenging solution when you are dealing with buildings that are anywhere from 110- to 120-years-old, in this solution we used a lot of creativity to bring a 110-year-old building to this level of efficiency. This project married the need to reduce energy consumption to be responsible and provide a more comfortable learning environment for students.”

Harrison and Lantz Halls, which house a library, classrooms and dormitories, have been utilizing a fuel oil boiler for heat and domestic hot water, plus a few newer high-efficiency cooling systems. To make these buildings energy efficient, the Mitsubishi CITY MULTI Minisplits will be installed in both halls, plus, the current existing systems will be retro-commissioned to optimize efficiency and connected to the centralized controls system. In each building, the fuel boiler will be removed and a natural gas tankless water heater will serve domestic hot water needs.

It is projected that the heating and cooling units will operate for less than what was being spent to only heat the buildings, according to Buennemeyer.

“If it is cool in the basement and it’s hot upstairs the heat can be redistributed without having to reject the heat from upstairs and use an energy source to create heat for the cooler downstairs with the Mitsubishi unit,” said Brewer. “The heat is moved around in the building as efficiently as possible.”

A newer campus building, Warehime Hall, which consists of all dormitories, currently utilizes a chiller and fuel oil boiler. The old fuel oil boiler will be removed and replaced with a high-efficiency natural gas boiler for the heating needs and a natural gas tankless water heater for the domestic hot water needs. Since the HVAC system has been underperforming in this building — limited controls cause the system to under or over heat, or under or over cool — new controls by Kele will be installed.

The Cook and Kitchin Dining Hall’s HVAC rooftop package and propane tankless water heater will be retrofitted with a demand control ventilation monitor to keep carbon dioxide levels low and adjust the outside air intake when necessary, conserving energy since the room will only be cooled or heated when occupied. The existing tankless water heater will be also be retrofitted to use natural gas, eliminating the need for propane.

As part of the Bundled Energy Solutions project, water conserving plumbing fixtures will also be installed throughout the six buildings, and a natural gas infrastructure will be installed across the campus to provide fuel to all the appliances that currently use propane or fuel oil. Plus, lighting will be replaced or retrofitted with the latest in T8 technology.

The overall reduction in energy and operating costs will help pay for the bundled energy solutions project, which will be financed over the next 15 years, and the academy plans to apply for energy grants that will offset some of the project’s costs. Linc Services plans to assist Massanutten Military Academy with securing certification from Energy Star.

The upgrades and retrofits are expected to be competed and all systems operational by the end of this year, according to Buennemeyer, and the entire project will be fully completed in the first quarter of next year.

“This project is in keeping with our school’s founding motto, Non Nobis Solum, ‘not for ourselves alone,’” said Craig Jones, Massanutten Military Academy’s Head of School. “Cleaner energy and lower operating costs are great news, as are comfortable working and living areas. What makes this project especially gratifying is its environmental impact and its promise of making our historic buildings more sustainable.”