The Crowder College Board of Trustees heard the early results Thursday morning of an investment grade audit intended to find ways to make the campus more energy efficient and to cut down on the college’s utility bills.

Schneider Electric began the process of looking for energy savings at Crowder in November with a preliminary audit and are expected to bring a final plan proposal to the board in September.

“What we’re talking about is facility improvements,” said Peter Hinkle, of Schneider Electric. “It’s a budgetary neutral type of a process. It’s not asking you to take out additional capital debt, instead it’s actually asking you to utilize the dollars that you’re already spending within your utility budgets to pay for improvements.”

Based on the findings Schneider presented to the board, the net financial impact for the college would come out to approximately $170,505 after 15 years.

However, Jim Cummins, Crowder’s vice president of finance, said the net financial impact could potentially be much higher, if the college made their lease payments over 10 years instead of 15.

The lease payments for energy equipment run $140,142 annually on the 15-year plan, though Cummins said he believed he could work out a 10-year plan, which would save Crowder money in the long-run.

In that case, the total net financial impact would increase to $407,918.  

“That’ll just be your comfort level of whether you want to bite off a little bit of the savings and pay for it over a 10 year period rather than a 15 year period,” Cummins told the board.
The total energy savings is estimated at $2.22 million over 15 years.

Hinkle said if the cost savings are not as much as is estimated in the final plan, Schneider Electric will pay the difference.

The base project includes lighting and lighting controls, including making light bulbs across campus uniform, as well as setting lights in some rooms across campus, such as bathrooms, to turn off if the room is not in use. The project also includes a building automation system, which allows maintenance crews to go online and look at each of the campus buildings to identify trouble areas, water retrofits for domestic and irrigation wells, which includes separating the irrigation at the softball and baseball fields from the gymnasium water bill, and PC and network power management, which would schedule times for groups of computers, such as those in computer labs, to turn off when not being used.

The project also includes HVAC improvements at the Bob Sneller gymnasium, including the addition of air conditioning to the gymnasium and lobby.

The board, on Thursday, gave the OK for the project to proceed. They are scheduled to finalize the project and financing plans in their September board meeting.

In other business:

• The Crowder board voted to revise the budget to allow $39,000 for the presidential search. Former President Alan Marble left Crowder July 1 to take a position at Missouri Southern State University, where he now serves as the interim president. Crowder, meanwhile hired former longtime president Kent Farnsworth to serve as the college’s interim president for one year, while the board performs a search to find Marble’s replacement.

• Trustees voted to approve Nabholz Construction Services, of Rogers, Ark., to serve as the construction manager for a new residence hall to be built at the Neosho campus. Cummins said the construction manager would be paid just over 2 percent of the total project cost.

• The board heard a report from admissions director Jim Riggs. Riggs reported that the college’s summer enrollment increased this year, with 1,579 students enrolled, compared to 1,438 in the summer of 2012. The college saw a 9.76 percent increase in head count, while credit hours also rose, from 7,490 in 2012 to 8,720 this summer.

• Trustees voted to approve the appointment of Pam Hudson as director of the new McDonald County Campus, which is currently under construction in Jane.
Hudson previously served as the development director.