Kalamazoo Valley Staying Green



Through the cooperative efforts of students, faculty, administration and staff, Kalamazoo Valley Community College has been able to achieve savings over $1 million dollars in the past two years. Since October 2009, the college has used an innovative energy conservation program available through Cenergistic, formerly Energy Education.

Since its introduction, the program has resulted in a cost avoidance of $1,096,456. In environmental terms, the energy saved equates to 8,290 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions being prevented, or 1,488 autos off the highway annually or over 212,052 tree seedlings planted and grown in ten years.

Kalamazoo Valley made the commitment to reduce its energy consumption by 18% in 2009. “Since then we have built a customized and sustainable energy conservation program that reduces consumption of electricity, natural gas, and water through changes in organization by a massive, coordinated effort between scheduling, faculties, outside events, preventative maintenance and building improvements,” said Ted Forester, Kalamazoo Valley’s Energy Education Specialist.

To verify the program’s effectiveness, identify further saving opportunities and measure success, Forester tracks energy consumption — including electricity, water, sewer, and natural gas by using a third-party energy-accounting software from EnergyCAP, Inc. The software compares current energy use to a baseline period and calculates the amount of energy that would have been used if conservation and management practices had not been implemented. It adjusts for weather, equipment additions or deletions, and changes in building use by tracking consumption and analyzing energy use.

Other energy conserving projects have included the installation of a green roof at the Texas Township campus. The live plants on the roof about the Student Services wing act as a filter to rainwater. In addition, the emergency phones found in the parking lots at TTC are powered by solar panels on the light poles.

Storm water runoff basins are also being constructed just west of the wind turbine at the Texas Township Campus. The storm water infiltration system will eliminate the direct flow of storm water runoff from campus parking lots and rooftops to the West fork of Portage Creek. Instead, the water runoff will flow into the storm basins and filter into the aquifer. The new multi-stage storm water treatment system will result in annual reductions of 18.2 million gallons of storm water; 36 pounds of total phosphorus; 500 pounds of nitrogen; and 7 tons of sediment.

“Since 2009, I have toured many educational facilities in Michigan and given many tours of our facility,” Forester said. “I feel so lucky to be part of Kalamazoo Valley. I always look forward to the expression I see on people’s faces when we tell them how old our buildings are. People find it hard to believe what great shape our buildings and mechanical rooms are in. I know that is due to a lot of hard work from our custodial, maintenance and grounds staff. They take pride in their work and it shows. That is truly something to be proud of.”