Top NavTop NavTop Nav

Cal State East Bay makes energy efficient upgrades


  • July 10, 2012

Driving downhill to the Hayward Campus of California State University, East Bay, during his short morning commute, Roger Doering, assistant professor of computer engineering, is actually restoring energy to his shiny blue Nissan Leaf, an all-electric car.

Lightly pressing on the brake, Doering glances at his dashboard where he can watch a digitally displayed power consumption meter. As the battery regenerates, display bubbles on his dashboard slowly start to fill up until he has restored the energy lost while climbing up the hill.

Among other gadgets and buttons that came with his zero emissions car is a feature that allows Doering to locate electric car charging stations in his vicinity. Little green dots fill the dashboard monitor, indicating the nearest public sources of energy for his Leaf.

Soon, Doering will see a little green dot on his monitor that represents two new charging stations slated for installation in CSUEB parking lots by the end of August.

Introducing charging stations on the Hayward campus is part of a transition to greener technologies underway at the university, where the Facilities Management Department is working on installation and replacement projects expected to significantly reduce campus energy consumption, said Evelyn Munoz, CSUEB energy manager.

Two additional energy conservation projects are expected to be completed by the end of August, including the replacement of outdated parking lot pole units with more efficient plasma lighting systems and replacement of aging cooling towers with new units. Cooling towers help remove excess heat generated by equipment such as air conditioning units.

“Newer technology is always better,” Munoz said. “These types of projects will help alleviate electricity (demand), green house gas emissions and lower energy costs.”

Perhaps the most intriguing project, the installation of the charging stations, will allow students, faculty and staff with electric and semi-electric vehicles — including motorcycles — to maintain a charge for up to 100 miles, she added.

Prior to construction of the Dining Commons, former site of parking lot C, the university hosted two charging stations adjacent to Pioneer Heights. The outdated stations, currently in the Facilities Management Corp. Yard, were paid for by a grant awarded to the university.

The existing stations made possible the renewal of the grant, which will pay to replace and upgrade the two older stations. Once installed, each new dual station, with the addition of a smaller 120-volt charger, will allow up to three cars or motorcycles to charge at once.

Staff members in facilities management have counted a handful of electric vehicles in CSUEB parking lots and anticipate high student demand for the charging stations. If the grant is extended, more stations are expected to be added in response to campus demand. University parking lots also will see the addition of energy efficient plasma lighting systems which will replace 19 light pole units. Electricians broke ground on the project in mid-June.

“The result will be increased lighting levels and reduced energy consumption,” said Jim Zavagno, CSUEB director of planning design and construction.

The university’s previous lighting system, based on aged high pressure sodium, wastes a large amount of energy, he added.

Upgrades will also be made to two aging cooling towers in Meiklejohn Hall and the Music Building that are past due for replacement.

“(The replacement) will not only result in lower energy costs but minimal maintenance and repair,” said Zavagno.

Munoz says the university will continue to venture towards greener technologies in the future.

Although still in the conceptual stage, facilties managers are looking into the potential benefits of adding solar panels in campus parking lots and solar thermal heating in campus buildings, which Robert Andrews, director of facilities mangement, estimates would boost alternative energy usage at the university by five to 10 percent.

© California State University, East Bay. All Rights Reserved.