Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Truckee Meadows Community College (TMCC) is firmly committed to environmental sustainability. From architecture to infrastructure, we are dedicated to the creation and responsible management of a healthy environment. The practical aspects of our sustainability initiatives answer imperative issues and have a visible impact on our relationship to the environment. Our sustainability efforts are delivered through TMCC’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The commitments we have made are crucial to the achievement of global climate goals in the mitigation of climate change. They are deployed through various strategies that focus on practices, partnerships, and initiatives that will help us to confront the twenty-first century’s climatic challenges. These strategies are holistic and collaborative in scope, yet measurable, giving many benefits to students and the entire community. The following is a brief summary of TMCC’s sustainability efforts.
Maintenance Department. Located in Reno, Nevada, TMCC generates supplemental energy from solar arrays across three campus locations. Power generation from these solar arrays between July 2019 and June 2020 totaled 233,275 kWh. There are economic and technical issues connected with harnessing renewable energy resources from solar power, which are related to the integration of photovoltaic (PV) systems into the grid. Alleviating these technical concerns involves ensuring optimal grid control and power management from PV systems, necessitating frequent inspections. TMCC deploys periodic unmanned aircraft system (UAS) aerial infrared (IR) thermographic scans to evaluate panel condition, efficiency losses, structural integrity, and system evaluation of our PV systems.
TMCC also deploys a firm energy-conservation protocol through numerous practices, which include the following:
a. Replacement of old incandescent lighting with LED lights.
b. Installation of high-efficiency boilers, heat pumps, and air conditioning that reduce our carbon footprint.
c. Upgrading of our campus-wide building management system to the Alerton Ascent Compass system, which allows a convenient, easy interface for building optimization/control, ensuring better-integrated high-performance buildings.
d. Deployment of a facilities condition assessment, making energy efficiency and sustainability a priority.
e. Installation of lighting sensors to automatically turn off lighting when not in use, which conserves energy and includes the parking lots.
Design and Construction. Owing to the increased application of sustainability design concepts to the construction of sports and fitness facilities over the last decade and the importance of diminishing the negative impacts of greenhouse gases, TMCC continues to incorporate sustainable design and construction practices. These practices include the following:
a. Installation of flooring that only requires water cleaning.
b. Installation of a smart irrigation system for water conservation.
c. Construction of the new Fitness Center to a LEED silver equivalency.
d. Installation of a V2T roofing system on our Red Mountain Building.
The V2T Roof System, a green technology, utilizes the Venturi effect and Bernoulli’s principle to capture the dynamic flow of air across the roof surface, thus generating lower pressures below the roof membrane. The system eliminates the need to use screws and adhesives, taking advantage of wind power. Negative air pressure eradicates excess air under the roof membrane to produce a suction effect that strengthens the roof system. The manufacturer, V2T Technology, states that “V2T is a combination of vents and air channels that work together to hold the roof membrane in place. Traditionally, roofs have used ballast, adhesives, or mechanical fasteners to adhere the membrane to the roof deck.” The V2T system has overcome this requirement.
According to Desjarlais and Byars, moisture has been a major cause of re-roofing in the United States, which accounts for 75% of roofing work, and has become a multibillion-dollar problem in the roofing industry.”
The V2T Roof System uses wind power that creates suction between the roof membrane and substrate (the Venturi effect). The harder the wind blows, the better the roof holds. According to the V2T Technology website, “This suction increases the potential for removal of moisture from the roof system.”
HVACR Department. In addition to achieving energy efficiency through our building management system (BMS), the HVACR section is committed to eliminating hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC— better known as R22) and hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants. These refrigerants are powerful greenhouse gases and were recently targeted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for reduced production and distribution. Refrigerants exhibiting a lower global warming potential (GWP) are more suitable for emission reduction. Refrigerant replacement is dependent on energy efficiency and indirect emissions from use. R22 refrigerants produce higher CO2 emission and a reduced thermodynamic performance in comparison to R1270, RM30, RM50, and R290, which can be considered environmentally friendly alternatives to R22.
The Montreal Protocol alluded to the phasing out of R22 owing to its unfavorable environmental impacts, pushing for using R407c refrigerant as a replacement to R22. Although R407c has a zero ozone depletion potential (ODP) and reduced global warming potential (GWP) as compared to R22, R407c is still a blend of HFC, with reduced performance compared to R22.
TMCC’s HVACR department commits to focusing on the following steps:
a. Employment of a very robust refrigerant management system that includes migration to environmentally friendly refrigerants (R290) through gradual replacement and retirement of systems.
b. Maintenance of equipment and refrigerant inventory.
c. Deployment of HVAC-system condition monitoring through our BMS (with remote adjustments and automatic adaptation to atmospheric temperature changes).
d. Maintenance of proper refrigerant classification, reclaim, and recycling in U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-certified concealed recovery cylinders.
e. Prompt replacement of obsolete systems with greener systems using less energy and low GWP.
f. Implementation of night setback modes through our BMS controllers for our HVACR system to control temperatures and pump operation during unoccupied hours for energy efficiency.
g. Operation of an energy recovery system that utilizes building thermodynamics, such that normally exhausted air treats the incoming ventilation air, using heat from the exhaust airstream during cooler seasons to preheat and humidify the incoming ventilation air.
Custodial Department. TMCC’s custodial department is committed to utilizing eco-friendly cleaning products with ECOLOGO and Green Seal certifications that guarantee compliance with environmental performance standards. Examples include the following:
a. The EPA-registered Clorox Total 360 electrostatic disinfectant system, which employs 65% less solution thanks to its innovative patented electrostatic sprayer.
b. Deployment of green cleaning operations for floor cleaning and polishing using ec-H20 technology, which electrically converts water into an innovative detergent-free solution for cleaning. The system involves no detergent, no emission, no energy loss, no acid, no eutrophication (over-enrichment of an ecosystem with chemical nutrients), and no particulates, just water.
In addition to this commitment, TMCC deploys an efficient waste-recycling plan that manages and reduces waste, recovers valuable resources, and creates a clean environment.
COVID Cleaning. Challenges with disinfection arise when common surfaces and touchpoints are cleaned and disinfectants applied, but there is no effective residual protection left behind after disinfection. With no effective residual protection, microbes such as SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) then thrive. TMCC deploys BioProtect on our campus locations to help with the COVID-19 pandemic. BioProtect is an EPA-registered, water-based (90% water), antimicrobial technology that provides persistent and continuous protection of a surface for more than six weeks. It is a preservative antimicrobial coating that can be applied to both porous and nonporous surfaces to destroy microbes. When applied, the BioProtect coating forms a layer of spikes, each of which carry a positive charge that attracts the negatively charged COVID-19 microbe. Once attracted to the sprayed surface, the molecular nanospikes pierce the COVID-19 cell and rupture its cell membrane, causing the microbe to die.
Grounds Department. TMCC’s grounds department promotes and maintains a balanced environment through the following practices:
a. Landscape water conservation, which involves constant monitoring and modifications to our irrigation system. We utilize landscape conditions and local weather to tailor irrigation scheduling to site conditions instead of always using preset scheduling, thus avoiding overwatering.
b. Grasscycling and leaf-collection practices that convert grass clippings to mulch and compost for planters, which decomposes quickly, naturally infusing nitrogen and other nutrients back into the soil to improve lawn quality.
c. Tree limbs are periodically pruned, chipped, and used as mulch, consequently reducing waste hauled to landfills.
d. Utilizing organic and natural practices to control landscape insect infestation. This includes application of neem oil, application of insecticidal soap, and the release of lady beetles to control aphids. Neem oil is an organic insecticide that decreases insect feeding, repels insects, and interferes with insect hormones. Insecticidal soaps are long-chain fatty acids that occur naturally as coconut oil and palm oil. They are environmentally friendly, with a low mammalian toxicity. Lady beetles are voracious aphid eaters and will eat more than 50 aphids daily.
e. Implementation of an integrated pest management (IPM) approach. IPM is a green, strategic ecosystem-based pest prevention practice. This initiative uses natural resources to control pests. Utilizing low and nontoxic pest control mitigates the domino effect of killing an entire food chain, which can result from using toxic pesticides. Imagine feeding poison to a mouse—a cat eats the mouse, a raccoon eats the cat, and a mountain lion eats the raccoon. This consequently kills an entire food chain, which negatively affects a balanced ecosystem. Our green initiative preserves the wildlife habitats and creatures that surround our campus spaces.
Yields from Energy Efficiency Investments. Yields from energy efficiency investments include the following:
a. Significant reduction in heat consumption per square foot, as compared to the median for similar buildings in our climate zone. (March 2019 to Feb 2020—TMCC: 58.8 KBtu; Others: 82.9 KBtu).
b. Increased Energy Star score according to our EPA Portfolio Manager rating for eligible building types. The Energy Star score provides a comprehensive snapshot of a building’s energy performance. It assesses the building’s physical assets, operations, and occupant behavior in a quick and easy-to-understand number.
c. Reduced energy cost per student, which falls below the median for similar buildings in our climatic zone (Spent $1.06 on energy costs per student, compared to $1.26 per student in our climatic zone, and $1.46 per student for the 2020 baseline benchmarking study.)
TMCC exemplified leadership through collaborating with NV Energy in the NV GreenEnergy Rider renewable energy agreement. TMCC achieved this sustainability goal by offsetting 100% of our electric service load with renewable energy resources from NV Energy. This involved a computation of the total electrical energy consumption across all TMCC sites in kilowatt-hours, offset with all generations from all renewable sources, considering anticipated consumption for ongoing and future projects. TMCC achieved this renewable energy aspiration, utilizing 100% clean electric energy, and is proud to be the first institution of higher learning in Nevada to make the state’s boldest renewable energy commitment, as well as the first institution within the Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) to do so—and the first institution in Nevada to do so.
Other initiatives deployed at TMCC include the following:
a. A bike repair station, to enhance the biking experience of students, faculty, and staff members. The bike repair station has a repair arm and tools necessary to perform basic bicycle repairs.
b. Hydration and water-bottle filling stations to encourage reduction in plastic water bottle utilization and disposal.
c. Electric vehicle (EV) charging stations.
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Ayodele Akinola is interim executive director, facilities design/construction, operations, capital planning & auxiliary services at Truckee Meadows Community College, Reno, NV; he can be reached at email@example.com.