The successful implementation of new controls in a science building prompted officials at Rockhurst University to put new controls into an art gallery and other buildings. The improvements at the science center alone have saved an average of $4,000 per month in energy costs since fall 2003.
"It was nicknamed the Richardson Sauna Building when it first opened. We had water pouring out of ducts and up to 80% humidity," claimed Brenda Tidmore, assistant director of physical plant at Rockhurst University, a Catholic-Jesuit comprehensive school with 2,500 students in Kansas City. Opened in 1996, the Richardson Science Center, a three-story, 76,290-sq-ft facility, includes lecture rooms, labs, and faculty offices for the departments of biology, chemistry, computer science, mathematics, physics, and occupational/physical therapy education.

Indeed, the building itself was a science experiment in human survival. "It was totally out of control," commented John Blaha, sales representative at Control Service Company, a firm headquartered in Independence, MO. "Cold spots measured as low as 63°F in the summer, and in the winter, students came to classes with blankets. The center's original HVAC system included constant volume air handling to exhaust fumes from the chemistry labs. We found blown fuses and defective reheat coils. By running outside air 24/7, it cost as much to operate that building as all the other academic buildings on campus combined."

Control Service's work for the university evolved from its relationship with the affiliated Rockhurst High School. The project began in early 2003.

Cooling system controls were replaced on the Des Champs rooftop units, outfitted with McQuay centrifugal compressors installed in a DX configuration, and VFDs were added to the Evapco cooling tower motors. In addition, "we converted the system to VAV with 59 boxes to reduce heating and cooling requirements for incoming air," Blaha continued. "We also reactivated or replaced 20 defective reheat coils and added occupancy sensors for lighting and temperature setbacks." Chief Heating and Cooling, an area HVAC contractor, performed all sheet metal work; the building was occupied and in use throughout the project.

The Center Of The Center

At the center of it all is Automated Logic® Corporation's Web-based WebCTRL® system. With the equipment successfully integrated (including a BACnet® interface to Tekaire fume hoods in the labs) and working properly, the Richardson Science Center now operates efficiently, saving an average of $4,000 per month in energy costs since fall 2003. Faculty and students are no longer playing the campus version of "Survivor." And university officials are looking at replacing the proprietary control system now installed campus-wide.

"It's made our job a lot easier," said Glen Haywood, Rockhurst's director of physical plant. "With WebCTRL, we just bring it up, look at the facility, and zero in. Problems are easily fixed - it's rare that we get a complaint. And Control Service has done a great job. They've been great people to work with."

The difference is "wonderful," added chief engineer Art Carrillo. With WebCTRL, "we just look at the graphics and can see any problems instantaneously. Points are easy to reconfigure. And we've saved so much energy, too."

Elsewhere On Campus...

Pleased with the changes at the Richardson Science Center, university officials authorized a WebCTRL retrofit at Rockhurst's Greenlease Art Gallery, built in 2000 and home to the school's permanent collection of 15th to 18th century religious art as well as temporary exhibitions. Despite its 24/7 boiler-chiller operation, the one-story (with basement), 8,700-sq-ft facility had humidity control problems of its own. That presented a serious challenge to maintaining comfortable conditions for visitors, and more importantly, ideal conditions for the art.

"We added room sensors and humidistats, and we put the entire system on WebCTRL," Haywood remarked. "Now we maintain 50% relative humidity in the gallery; a 5% humidity change in either direction sends an alarm. We simply could not maintain that range prior to that."

Built in 1914, Sedgwick Hall is the oldest original building on campus. The three-story (with basement), 67,919-sq-ft facility currently houses a performing arts theater, student radio station, classrooms, offices for student publications, and faculty offices. Plans for a comprehensive renovation within the year include two new steam boilers with new pumping system and converter control valves for both steam and hot water systems. The new boilers will be integrated into the expanding WebCTRL system. ES