Living on campus is an integral part of the college experience. Prospective students evaluate the condition of campus facilities when choosing higher education options. Dorm life should translate into comfortable living, and campuses that fail to deliver run the risk of declining enrollment and overall dissatisfaction from students.

Grogan Hall, a 165-room, 75,000-sq-ft dormitory at University of North Carolina – Greensboro (UNCG), was not meeting student’s expectations. In addition to aesthetic updates, the building needed various mechanical updates including replacing outdated HVAC systems. 

With a $6.5 million construction budget, the associate director for operations at UNCG, Ed Keller, began a renovation project to enhance the energy efficiency of the building as well as to satisfy the needs of incoming students in relation to comfort, space, and overall quality. He sought out a solution that had a less expensive initial cost and would not only meet energy constraints but also free up floor space.

“Grogan is a 56-year-old building. The HVAC systems were beyond their useful life, so it was either time to renovate or shut the whole facility down,” said Keller. “Furthermore, we are competing with schools that have newly renovated facilities, so we needed a system that could deliver an on-campus experience that was not only appealing to our residents but also meets our budgetary demands.”

To accomplish the university’s goals, Greensboro sought to install a new HVAC solution for this project.

With the priorities of reduced floor space, quiet comfort, and energy efficiency in mind, the project renovation team selected International Environmental Corporation (IEC) and its SureFlow® Hi-Performance Horizontal fan coil system.

“The biggest selling factors for me in selecting SureFlow® was its low operating and maintenance costs, as well as small footprint it was able to provide in the individual rooms,” said Keller.

The SureFlow® system has a low point of entry cost because of the reduction of pipes and fittings. Designed as a 2-pipe system that performs like a 4-pipe, the company says it eliminates a substantial amount of the expense usually spent on materials and labor. It also may reduce the amount of pipe and fittings needed to heat and cool the rooms and common spaces.

Once installed, no formal maintenance is required on the valve or circulator package components most commonly used with SureFlow® units other than normal periodic visual inspections and typical upkeep. The vertical piping design also allows the horizontal units to be located for easy access in multiple floor plans, minimizing disruption to the students.

Taking up virtually no floor space in the dormitories, the SureFlow® system is mounted over the room doors, which maximizes space within the dorm. The small footprint also enabled easier maintenance without having to disturb room components to change the filter.

The project was completed in August 2015. Since completion, the upgrade has exceeded the university’s expectations, reducing energy consumption by 30%.

“Since installation, we have seen a substantial amount of savings,” said Keller. “At Grogan Dorm, we are attributing savings of around $2,000 each month on energy alone to the SureFlow® system. We have plans to expand the system throughout campus, beginning with at least two or three buildings in the next year.”

Furthermore, with an allocated mechanical budget of $2.3 million, installation of the SureFlow® system enabled savings of roughly $500,000, coming in under budget at $1.8 million.