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Ohio State Energy Partners discuss lighting, building update projects

Lights in a Dreese Laboratory hallway. In addition to the lighting project, a $2.3 million upgrade to Dreese Laboratory’s heating and cooling system will be proposed to the Board of Trustees later this week. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo Editor

Ohio State Energy Partners is starting its work to make campus more energy efficient through lighting and building updates.

Energy Partners CEO Serdar Tufekci said the initiatives will begin soon and the renovations are predicted to last for about six months.

The first phase of the project consists of designing the updates, then bidding the projects out to local contractors, Tufekci said.

“Actual physical work will start within the next couple of months and it will be finished before the new academic year,” he said.

These changes include indoor lighting projects, heating and cooling energy systems upgrades. So far, Dreese Laboratory is the first and only building currently undergoing these renovations.

“We are developing plans to the other buildings in the very near future, subject to Ohio State’s approval,” Tufekci said.

The Board of Trustees must approve Ohio State Energy Partners projects before the entity — which was created after the university privatized its energy systems in March 2017begins a project.

Based on historical data, Tufekci said Dreese Laboratory’s energy use-intensity — the total energy consumed per year per square feet — is higher than the campus average.

In response, smart meters, technology which provide energy usage readings in real-time, have been installed in Dreese.

“We know exactly what technologies to implement and achieve significant energy savings and return on the capital invested for the university,” Tufekci said. “This makes [Dreese Laboratory] an ideal first case.”

As for the indoor lighting projects, 51 buildings will receive these changes in the future.

Tufekci said the lighting project is one of the many Ohio State Energy Partners has developed.

“In the first phase, it covers 51 buildings on campus, and then, we plan to audit and look at other buildings on campuses, as well,” Tufekci said.

Sangeeta Rajaintheran, a third-year in computer science and engineering, said the new upgrades would bring benefits when attending lectures.

“Being a [computer science and engineering] major, most of my classes are at Dreese Laboratory,” Rajaintheran said. “It is a constant battle in the building with the dim lights to focus during classes.”

She said the updates will benefit his and his classmates’ mood and focus.  

Ohio State Energy Partners has several goals to work toward, according to its contract with the university, one of which is  providing updates and care for campus energy and utility systems. These utility services include the electricity, heating and cooling of buildings.

“Whatever project we develop, we take [the goals] into account and see how the projects affect these goals,” Tufekci said. “If the project does not have a positive feedback in one of the [goals], then, that takes a serious look.”

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