MONROE, Mich. – Monroe County Community College won first place in the state for energy use reduction in the Michigan Battle of the Buildings’ Education category.

The Michigan Battle of the Buildings is an awards and recognition program for energy use reduction hosted by the U.S. Green Building Council of West Michigan that is open to all Michigan area commercial, industrial and multi-family buildings.

The award was presented on April 25 at the 2019 Michigan Energy Summit in Grand Rapids.

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The college reduced its overall energy use last year by 15 percent, edging out the University of Michigan, which placed second in the state with an overall energy reduction of 11 percent for Joan and Sanford Weill Hall.

The first place finish earned MCCC the title of “Biggest Loser in the Michigan Battle of the Buildings Competition.”  There were more than 1,000 entries in the competition, including about 100 in Education category.

Competitors engaged in action to cut their energy waste in a variety of ways, such as upgrading building lighting, adding high performance building controls or addressing occupant behavior.  MCCC’s reduction was the result of a two-year project that transitioned the college’s outdated, conventional HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system to a more energy-efficient and earth-friendly geothermal-based system.

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Five Main Campus buildings – the Audrey M. Warrick Student Services/Administration Building, Life Sciences Building, Campbell Learning Resources Center, and East and West Technology Buildings, which were all built in the late 1960s or early 1970s – are served by the new geothermal-based system. The Career Technology Center, built in 2013, has its own geothermal-based HVAC system.

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Long view of the geothermal room in Monroe County Community College’s Audrey M. Warrick Student Services/Administration Building.
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MCCC Director of Campus Planning and Facilities Jack Burns leads a tour of the college’s new geothermal system following its dedication just prior to the beginning of the 2017-18 academic year..

Newer campus buildings including La-Z-Boy Center, built in 2004, and Gerald Welch Health Education Building, built in 1996, have conventional HVAC systems with time left on their lifespans; they will be added to the geothermal-based system once their current systems are in need of replacement.

Ameresco, Inc., a leading energy efficiency and renewable energy services provider, was the engineer and general contractor for the project.

Geothermal-based HVAC systems bring buildings into harmony with the earth beneath by taking advantage of subterranean temperatures to provide heating in colder-weather months and cooling in warmer-weather months, explained Jack Burns, director of campus planning and facilities at MCCC, who oversaw the project.

Burns accepted the award for MCCC along with the project engineer, Trent DeBoer, of GMB Architecture & Engineering, and Krista Nesbit, account executive-Michigan for Ameresco.

A complete list of winners and competitors is available at:

Sources: Monroe County Community College, Michigan Battle of the Buildings