Colleges and Universities face critical challenges when attempting to reduce energy costs. Many higher education institutions have multiple campuses, and usually each campus has numerous buildings that may transform from empty to full capacity many times each day. This creates unique challenges for conditioned air, water and lighting resource planning.

Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC) located in Charlotte, NC has continued to increase both its enrollment and the number of campuses, the university wanted to upgrade its operations/ infrastructure in order to ensure the best learning environment possible for students. However, like many colleges in around the country CPCC was limited by its budget. The overall plan for the college was to lessen its environmental footprint by reducing energy usage and implement some conservation measures that were in alignment with the school’s sustainability goals. The challenge of course was how to get these cost savings and sustainability without drastically increasing the budget for capital outlays.

CPCC had viewed Trane as a trusted partner and decided to enter into a performance contract agreement. This agreement was focused on making improvements to the school’s Central Campus. The contract allowed the university to leverage its future energy savings in order to finance the infrastructure upgrades, all the while without applying any upfront capital outlays. The next question of course how in the world was this deal structured? The way it worked is Trane pockets all the savings until the equipment is paid off, plus a financing fee I’m sure. But in the end that is a can’t lose deal, because if CPCC did nothing they would still be spending the same energy costs, but when the loan is paid off they will be reaping the benefits of the improved energy costs.

The energy savings contract also provided an opportunity for Trane to work with the school’s facilities team in order to develop strategic energy saving plan through building improvements. Next Trane conducted a feasibility study and then they proposed the energy cutting measures, which were in alignment with the school’s needs, sustainability goals, and it’s energy savings objectives. The first phase of the performance contract was very successful and resulted in more than $380K of energy savings in just the first year. This was obviously a wildly successful program and lead the college into it’s second performance contract with Trane. Which expanded to cover a total of 30 buildings on 6 campuses.