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Physical Plant :: Sustainability

Special Interests

The TCU Physical Plant supports the overall University sustainability effort in a variety of ways, many of which are not obvious to the outside observer. These efforts are coordinated with other campus efforts through the active participation of the facilities staff on the TCU Sustainability Subcommittee.

Buildings

  • TCU has developed a robust capital construction program, which has provided the University with the opportunity to replace older, less efficient buildings with newer facilities with modern energy management and control systems, updated energy-saving technologies, and state-of-the-art insulation and building-envelope approaches.
  • Seven members of the Physical Plant Facilities Planning staff are LEED accredited (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-a certification program of the U.S. Green Building Council) and the Physical Plant participates in the Nationwide Rebuild America program.
  • The design intent of all new facilities is to achieve a minimum LEED Silver certification. We currently have one LEED Silver and twenty-three LEED Gold buildings on campus, with an additional seven currently under construction and six programmed for construction over the next three years to replace older buildings.

Grounds

  • TCU balances its strong focus on outstanding campus appearance with a sustainable grounds maintenance program that emphasizes use of drought-tolerant plants, efficient watering techniques, and recycling of vegetative waste.
  • The University installed an evapotranspiration watering system that receives input from current weather observations and measured soil moisture conditions to optimize irrigation water volume.
  • We follow city guidelines on automated and hand-watering approaches, and established dedicated metering systems to monitor irrigation water volume as compared to historical averages and rainfall.

Biodiversity

  • TCU has over 500 trees on campus, and has achieved designation as a “Tree Campus USA” school on what was once a prairie.

Procurement

  • The Physical Plant procures Green Seal Certified cleaning solutions for the campus for Facility Services and University Housing. This protects the health of the faculty, staff, students and housekeeping staffs. Green cleaning increases the lifespan of facilities and preserves the environment.
  • Most paper goods in use are 100% recycled products containing at least 40% post-consumer waste.
  • The Team Cleaning system in use by Facility Services is Green Seal Certified and considered the most efficient and sustainable system available.
  • The backpack vacuums in use by the Facility Services housekeepers are HEPA rated and Green Seal Certified.
  • Facility Services recently completed an International Sanitary Supply Association (ISSA)/American Institute for Cleaning Sciences (AICS) ISSA/CIMS-Green Building assessment and was awarded the recertification with honors by meeting all mandatory and over 90% of the recommended requirements.
  • TCU uses VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) free solvents and VOC-free inks in the printing operations.
  • TCU Safety provides oversight of the hazardous chemical disposal and ensures proper disposal, recovery or recycling of batteries, tires and other debris deemed hazardous or outside the normal waste stream.

Transportation

  • TCU’s vehicle fleet operations utilizes Low Emission Vehicles or Ultra Low Emission Vehicles for all licensed vehicles.
  • Physical Plant down-sized from full-sized trucks to compact vehicles whenever possible to lower costs and reduce emissions. These vehicles average 40-60 MPG, have decreased maintenance requirements, and allow easy access to buildings without consuming scarce staff and student parking spaces.

Waste

  • In 1987 a partnership was formed with Waste Management, Inc. which allowed the housekeeping staff to deposit all of the office/classroom waste to recycling dumpsters without being sorted, known as “single-stream recycling”. This recycling effort has been ongoing and is continually upgraded.
  • Waste Management has placed 9 recycling dumpsters (light tan) in various locations on campus for use by our housekeeping staffs.
  • Recycling on campus is facilitated by respective housekeeping staffs. Residents of dormitories separate waste material much like homeowners and Residential Services housekeepers transfer the recyclable material to designated recycling dumpsters. For non-residential buildings, Physical Plant housekeepers place all uncontaminated recyclable products in designated recycling dumpsters. The Physical Plant placed 50 dual bin waste/recycling receptacles in campus administration and classroom areas in early November to enhance awareness and support of recycling efforts.
  • The Physical Plant maintains 3 trash compactors on campus. The compactor reduces landfill volume, dump fees and associated fuel costs.
  • Paper/domestic waste recycling is only a small portion of the total recycling, conservation and sustainability effort of the University. The Physical Plant has been recycling copper, brass and steel since 1981. Most yard material (trimmings, tree limbs, etc.) are run through a chipper and composted, to be reused in plant bedding areas. Replacement plants are grown in the Plant green houses. Materials from demolition projects are collected and reused where possible. Computers, monitors and printers are recycled by Technology Resources. The engineering machine shop in the Tucker Technology Building recycles scrap aluminum and other metals from its support operations.

Water

  • Management of water resources consumed by the University began with separating the irrigation and the building-use water systems in order to measure and manage each separately.
  • The irrigation system was updated with an evapotranspiration arrangement in August 2011. This system measures the moisture in the ground and based on the type of plant, the system prevents over watering by the irrigation system. Since installation the amount of water for irrigation has been reduced by approximately 15% annually.
  • Building-use water usage is recorded and analyzed monthly to identify changes attributable to waste, later leaks, and equipment malfunction. Low flow fixtures, metering and aggressive system maintenance all contribute to sustained reduction in per-capita water utilization.
  • A dedicated water meter for irrigation now saves 40% on bill annually by not paying sewage fees.
  • Rain sensors reduce irrigation watering by one third.
  • Automatic irrigation systems improve efficiency of watering landscapes, and water at night to minimize evaporative loss.
  • Low flow faucets, showerheads, toilets and urinals have been installed as older units needed replacing throughout the campus to reduce the potable water demand. These low flow plumbing fixtures are estimated to save over 8.8 Million gallons of potable water annually compared to the old fixtures. Monitors have been installed to supply needed amount of water for all mechanical systems but no excess.

Energy

TCU has demonstrated a serious commitment toward energy demand reduction across campus, as measured by the campus Energy Utilization Index (EUI). Efforts are coordinated by a full time Certified Energy Manager within the Physical Plant, who ensures sustained investment in energy efficient lighting and building components, compliance with energy aspects of the LEED certification process for new construction and renovation, and aggressive efforts to replace high energy use items such as lighting with efficient emerging technologies. The result over the past five years has been reduction of the campus EUI from130 KBTU/SF/YR to 120 KBTU/SF/YR.


This has saved over $500,000 in energy cost this past year alone. This has been due to a combination of new and more efficient buildings, HVAC operational changes, LED lighting upgrades, HVAC equipment replacements, and control advances, some of which are highlighted below. TCU has also drafted a comprehensive Energy Strategy to set goals for continued energy demand reduction despite a growing campus.


  • All air conditioning chillers have been replaced with high efficiency, non-ozone depleting, CFC-free refrigerants.
  • A thermal storage system was installed in the central chiller plant to produce ice at night when electrical demand is lowest, and subsequently used to chill water during the heat of the day when peak energy demand is high.
  • Building envelopes were surveyed for air infiltration and leakage and subsequently sealed to improve efficiency of legacy facilities.
  • Campus heating systems were converted from an inefficient central steam system to a more efficient distributed hot water systems, resulting in substantial reductions in thermal loss and in system maintenance.
  • Lighting systems across campus were converted to more efficient electronic ballasts and T-8 fluorescent bulbs, and where appropriate, converted to even more efficient LED fixtures.
  • Motion sensors were installed to turn off lights when spaces were not in use, and the EMCS (energy management control system) was expanded to provide better control and operation of space temperatures campus-wide.
  • To decrease starting and operating loads, large motors used by building air-handlers and pumps were converted to smaller, higher efficiency units. The campus-wide chilled water distribution system was modified and the system flow balanced to provide more efficient distribution.
  • Low-flow shower heads were installed in a number of campus wide showers and included as standard features in new facilities.
  • Energy efficient windows were installed in numerous old buildings and energy efficient windows are a part of all new facilities and all major renovation projects.
  • The campus was converted to a more efficient 12 KVA electrical distribution system with a single meter and a power factor correction system which reduced the campus energy demand and reduced utility charges. An extensive system of sub-meters are also in place to measure individual buildings and assess energy consumption and efficiency over time.
  • In 2006 a new east campus chiller plant was installed to provide cooling to major facilities east of University Drive. This chiller plant was designed with the most energy efficient chillers available at that time. Replacement of Worth Hills chillers with this same technology was completed in 2015, and an ongoing capital investment program will continue to upgrade system components as needed to meet energy conservation goals.
  • LED lighting has reduced electrical consumption by over 350,000 KWH per year. The bigger benefit, per the maintenance staff, is eliminating the hours and cost spent on replacing lamps. Most LED’s will average 3 to 5 years or longer before needing any maintenance.

For additional information regarding the Physical Plant sustainability program, you can contact the TCU Energy Manager (817-257-4928) or the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Facilities (817-257-4125).