College Makes the Grade on Energy Efficiency With Washington Gas Rebates

Montgomery College has three Maryland campuses, more than 50 buildings, and 60,000 students, plus a $7.5 million annual utility budget for the electricity, natural gas, water, sewer and propane services essential to college operations.

“We’ve had an active utility management program since the late 1970s,” says Mike Whitcomb, energy manager at the college. “We are committed to integrating energy efficiency and resource conservation into the fabric of the institution.”

THE UPGRADES

The college recently replaced 40-year-old, dual-fuel boilers with six new high-efficiency condensing units at its Rockville campus, using a $38,000 Washington Gas rebate to help defray the upfront costs. The boilers have a 90% seasonal efficiency rating—10 points higher than the older units—and are part of a new hot water plant that serves 16 buildings across campus.

“The changeover from the old to the new plant was pretty seamless,” Whitcomb says. “We are confident the upgrades will help lower our energy costs and improve reliability, and we have already seen a difference in the new boilers’ load capacity.”

The new boilers are more reliable not only because they avoid the maintenance problems the old units had, but also because they operate at much lower temperatures. This prevents thermal shock, which can crack tubes and cause leaks that add to maintenance costs.

The process to apply and receive rebates from Washington Gas was seamless.”

—Michael Whitcomb, Energy Manager, Montgomery College

THE REBATES

A few years ago, Montgomery College received a $15,000 Washington Gas rebate to help cover the costs of new boilers at its Takoma Park campus. “We had a good experience working with the program during our earlier upgrades, and so knew it would be worthwhile to inquire about rebates for our latest project in Rockville,” Whitcomb says. “Once we knew we were eligible, our application for rebates didn’t take long. We had all the equipment specs documented in our plans. Finalizing the paperwork and receiving our rebate check was easy.”

THE FUTURE

Montgomery College has plans to inventory all three campuses to see if other aging boilers are eligible for replacement. Whitcomb and his colleagues are spreading the word about Washington Gas offerings, telling fellow members of a Montgomery County interagency committee about the potential for energy efficiency rebates.

“Anytime you can broadcast a $38,000 rebate check,” Whitcomb says, “people tend to listen. The financial benefits are clear, but it also gives us an opportunity to share our commitment to energy efficiency and resilience. It’s a win-win all around.”