In a move that was good for the university and for the planet, tankless hot water heaters were installed on several residence halls in August 2012. This shift away from the 1940’s boiler system resulted in significant energy, water and monetary savings.
The change was proposed by James Curiazza, plumbing supervisor. When asked why he took initiative to thoroughly research and propose the new tankless hot water units, when he did not have to, Curiazza humbly replied “I just wanted to make a difference that would truly be a benefit to Elon University as well as correct the hot water issues that we had been having.”
The new system is estimated to annually reduce CO2 emissions by 184 metric tons, conserve about 4,500 kWh of electricity, save the University $55,000 in maintenance and upkeep costs, and significantly decrease natural gas use and expense.
What contributes to energy savings and emission reductions? To provide hot water year round, the previous system operated year round regardless of weather. The tankless system separates steam heat and hot water. This allows the boilers to be shut down for 6 months out of the year when heat is not necessary. As a result, the costs and energy use associated with keeping two boilers operating constantly such as daily inspections, a constant supply of energy, regular chemical treatments, and maintenance of aging, underground pipes, are drastically reduced.
The units have certainly made a positive difference. Savings are likely to continue even after the completion of the project. According to Curiazza, now that contractors are comfortable working with the new system, they are starting to include tankless hot water heaters as an option for new buildings.
Curiazza’s work reminds us that individuals can indeed make major contributions to creating a more sustainable Elon. Curiazza’s approach to implementing his idea was to “come out strong.” His advice for helping an idea become reality is to share it with other potentially interested people, present solid data to back up the project, and tie the project to Elon’s goals, like carbon neutrality and sustainability.
It All Adds Up
Sustainability is a university wide initiative, and Elon needs your help to achieve its sustainability goals.
Elon has a goal to reduce purchased energy consumption by at least 6 percent each year to achieve a 50 percent reduction by 2018. You can help.
- Unplug electronics and appliances when not using them, especially overnight and during vacations.
- If your office has a window, close the blinds and/or shades at night in the winter to keep heat from escaping.
- Set the power management features on your computer to conserve energy.
Share your stories, your photos, your tips and your suggestions. To nominate the next Elon STAR or to learn more, visit elon.edu/sustainability, facebook/ElonSustainabilty, @SustainableElon or contact us.
About Elon STARS: Sometimes we see stars, sometimes we don’t, but they are always there. So it is with daily opportunities for contributing to sustainability. This series highlights actions of Elon community members doing their part to integrate sustainable practices at Elon. STARS also stands for the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System used by Elon and other higher education institutions to measure and monitor sustainability in all aspects of higher education.