A $30.2 million project to replace Shippensburg University’s outdated heating and cooling systems and reduce its impact on the environment received a top award from the U.S. Green Building Council–Central Pennsylvania (USGBC) on Nov. 3.

SU and the project’s designers, Gannett Fleming of Harrisburg and WM Group of New York City, received the 2016 Forever Green Award for Energy Project of the Year for the upgrade to the university’s systems.

The project’s key components were decommissioning the coal-powered steam plant and replacing it with a natural gas heating system and constructing a chilled water plant that replaced 25 separate building units.

“We were dealing with aged systems that needed to be replaced, but it really was a sustainability issue, too, trying to lessen our environmental impact,” said J. Lance Bryson, associate vice president for facilities.

Gannett Fleming noted that for the 2014–15 heating season, “the university’s energy utilization index decreased by more than 38 percent compared to the previous four years. Adding to the benefits, a projected 68 percent reduction in the school’s carbon footprint is anticipated because of the transition from coal-fired heating to natural gas-fired boilers.”

In addition, a comparison of electrical consumption data from the 2014–15 cooling season to the previous four years showed a 12 percent reduction in kilowatt-hour consumption and a 14.8 percent reduction in demand, despite an 11 percent increase in cooling degree days.

University officials expect yearly savings of at least $330,000 in electrical costs.

“The entire campus put up with a lot of inconvenience during the construction of this project, so it’s nice seeing the direct payback in terms of reduced carbon footprint and increased energy utilization,” Bryson said. “It’s especially meaningful that the efforts on all our individual parts to deal with the construction are recognized by the U.S. Green Building Council through this sustainability award.”

The project took more than four years, and was completed in July 2015.