Energy Efficiency, Finance  -  September 9, 2019

Cornell College to implement $5.9M in efficency improvements

Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa, will implement $5.9 million in infrastructure improvements to help reduce energy usage by 20% throughout the campus. Updates began in August, with plans to remove buildings from steam heat usage by the end of November 2019; the full project is scheduled to be completed over the next year.

The improvements are enabled by a Contingent Payment Program (CPP), a funding alternative to traditional debt financing that fully transfers risk to Johnson Controls, which is implementing the program. “Contingent payment programs are unique in the marketplace because we don’t get paid unless we produce the agreed-upon result,” said Aaron Rittenhouse, midwest program leader for Johnson Controls, in a statement. “If there’s a shortfall, we have an obligation to fix the reason for it and if we overperform, Cornell keeps that revenue. The risk is fully transferred to Johnson Controls to allow Cornell to focus on their mission.”

In addition to removing the campus steam plant, upgrades include installing high-efficiency boilers, LED lighting fixtures throughout the campus and window replacements in the Old Sem and College Hall buildings. The CPP guarantees that the infrastructure upgrades will produce savings that can help repay Johnson Controls for the project over the 18-year term agreement.

Johnson Controls will continually monitor progress and provide a report every year to ensure the company’s projects are providing the agreed-upon savings. Jonathan Brand, president of Cornell College, said the campus community will benefit from core mission activities, such as faculty retention and student aid, as a result of this infrastructure improvement project. “Working with Johnson Controls enables us to make rapid progress on what were formerly mid-term goals. We will be able to get entirely off of the steam plant, something that we have been hoping to do for years, as well as undertake several environmentally important projects without overburdening our budget,” said Brand. “Our students, faculty, and staff will know that this project will liberate additional funds that can be used elsewhere.”

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