TCIs First Demonstration Project

Each year the Tufts Facilities Department selects buildings for maintenance-related capital improvements as part of Tufts' deferred maintenance plan. The Facilities Department in 1999 suggested that the maintenance activity could be an opportunity to introduce energy- and environment-related improvements. The Tufts Climate Initiative asked a graduate student group from the Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning (UEP) to develop a set of recommendations that could be translated into action. This project was part of a required core course in which UEP student teams solve problems for an array of clients.

Working with the Tufts Energy Manager and TCI, the UEP students chose the university's French house—also known as Schmalz House—as the focus of their study based on the availability of energy-use data for the building, its inclusion in the summer maintenance plans, its potential for improvement, and its lack of occupancy during the spring 1999 semester. Schmalz House is a three-story residential wood-frame building with living space for twelve students who form a French-speaking community. Prior to the maintenance work, Schmalz House had no insulation, inefficient lighting, two oil-fired boilers, and two inefficient gas-fired hot water tanks.

The study performed by the graduate students suggested that the university should insulate the walls and roof, install a high-efficiency gas-fired boiler, improve heating controls, replace the top-loading washing machine with a front-loading unit, replace the existing refrigerator with an Energy Star-labeled model, and explore the feasibility of a solar hot water system.

TCI adopted the students' study as the foundation for a demonstration project and worked with Tufts Facilities, who implemented a number of the suggestions put forth in the students' report, as well as some additional items. TCI provided technical assistance and funded a portion of the climate change reduction-related improvements at Schmalz House.

The project was implemented in two phases during the summers of 1999 and 2000. Phase 1 (summer 1999) included the introduction of

• A solar hot water system with Btu meter

• High-efficiency lights

• Auto-dimming ballasts and other advanced lighting controls

• An Energy Star refrigerator

• A front-loading washing machine

Because the UEP students worked on the project in the first year of their two-year master's program, they could see the changes enumerated above when they returned to campus in the fall. Phase 2 (summer 2000) activities included

• Replacing the dual oil-fired boiler system with a high-efficiency gas-fired boiler

• Converting to all-hot-water heat distribution with baseboards

• Insulating walls and roof

• Connecting the existing hot water tanks and solar tank as a zone off of the boiler

The changes were expected to reduce energy use and emissions:

• The Energy Star refrigerator uses 20 percent less energy than a typical refrigerator.

• The front-loading washing machine uses nearly 50 percent less water and 35 percent less energy per load than a top-loading unit.

• The high-efficiency lighting will use nearly 25 percent less energy than the previous lighting system.

• The solar hot water system is expected to offset approximately 20 percent of the building's water-heating needs depending on the amount of water-use reduction resulting from the new washing machine.

• The more efficient boiler will reduce total heating energy and the switch from oil to natural gas will reduce emissions of climate-altering gas per Btu.

Consistent with TCI's strategy for using the campus as a learning laboratory, this same house was the focus of a student project in another course in spring 2005. See chapter 9 for an evaluation of these emission reduction actions.

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