Carbon Diet

Written by Mike Thee

January 13, 2014

a SU Men's Basketball player mid-air at Connolly's North Court

Upgrades at Connolly are reducing SU's emissions and bringing cost savings.

Connolly Center has long been a bastion for high-performing athletes and recreationalists. Now, with a number of recent improvements to its mechanical HVAC systems, the building itself is more fit than ever.

Facilities staff, pictured here, partnered with McKinstry over the summer on a number of upgrades to the 45-year-old building's aging, failing and inefficient HVAC infrastructure. The result is a facility with a new lease on life-and a substantially shrunken carbon footprint. SU has cut its carbon emissions by more than 574,000 pounds. That's equivalent to removing 38 cars from roadways or planting 78 acres of trees annually.

And the improvements are just as friendly to the university's bottom line as they are to the environment. SU received $348,000 in utility rebates incentives, which brought the actual cost of the project down to around $900,000. The more efficient system is expected to save the university a savings of more than $83,000 annually, which essentially means the project will be paid off in about 11 years.

The pièce de résistance is a new hot water loop that captures waste heat from Connolly's pool and exhaust air from the locker room and uses it to preheat the building's air and pool water. This masterful reuse of energy is the most recent in a long line of innovative solutions that have made SU a leader in sustainability and recipient of numerous awards, including most recently the 2013 Green Washington Awards from Seattle Business magazine.

"Cal Ihler championed this project from its inception through completion, making this one of the most innovative and green installations of any sports complex," said Steve Szablya, director of maintenance and operations.

Joining Ihler and Szablya in bringing the project to fruition were Kavik Frol, project manager; Pat Baldwin-McCurdy, building controls technician; and Skee Vigness-Evjen, plumber.