Kenyon College is a private liberal arts college in Gambier Ohio, known for being one of the most beautiful college campuses in the world. The school has undertaken a number of sustainability initiatives, including a recycling system upgrade, a biodiesel project, the creation of a dining hall composting system as well as the distribution of green living guides for students. Under the direction of Ed Neale, Sustainability Director at Kenyon, students also partnered with administrators to complete a campus energy audit for the last three years, as well as a carbon footprint calculation.
Kenyon is 100 percent residential, with over 1800 students living on campus. As a result of the energy audit performed, Ed Neale spearheaded a project to retrofit Kenyon’s dorm rooms with wireless energy management technology from Magnum Energy Solutions. Prior to the retrofit, students had very limited control over their thermal comfort while in their dorm rooms and therefore experienced warmer than necessary indoor temperatures. To combat this, students leave windows open nearly year round, which results in wasted energy and higher bills for the university. The university tried programmable thermostats, but these were overly complicated and students weren’t receptive.
In 2012, the university implemented Magnum’s wireless, batteryfree energy management technology. Now Kenyon dorm rooms are equipped with smart thermostats, occupancy sensors and window sensors that automate HVAC in dorm rooms. If a student opens their window, a wireless signal is sent and received by the smart thermostat, which then automatically turns off the HVAC system. Furthermore, when the student leaves their dorm, the thermostat receives a signal from the occupancy sensor and automatically sets back the HVAC into eco-savings mode where it is allowed to drift to a lower (or higher) set point according to the university preferences.
The university employs Magnum’s software and associated access points strategically located within the TCP/IP infrastructure in the residence halls so that they have the ability to remotely configure, monitor and control the system. Magnum’s software gives them visibility into their energy consumption data in real time, control over the maintenance of the system and gives the facilities team at Kenyon full control over the configuration of devices.
The students have completely embraced the system, which now allows them to have more control over the temperature in their dorm rooms. “The operation of the system is simple and straightforward and the installation, performed by Ameresco, didn’t impact regular operations at all”, stated Mr. Neale, who also noted an unexpected, yet important additional benefit. “In the summer months, dorm rooms were over cooled and the relative humidity would get high, creating mold problems,” stated Mr. Neale. “With the Magnum system initiating set backs and thermostat control, the relative humidity is staying where it should, between 51 and 54 percent.”
Over the 8-month period that the technology has been deployed in the initial 400 dorm rooms, the calculated energy savings are over $30,000, putting the university one year ahead of the payback they initially estimated when the project began. As a result of the energy savings and improved resident comfort, Kenyon is expanding the system into additional dorms and academic buildings across campus.