Maine college completes green energy project

An energy retrofit in one of the oldest buildings on the Unity College campus will improve efficiency, save money and demonstrate how to restore old buildings to meet modern needs, the school said in a news release.

The Maine college announced the completion of the green energy project in the Unity College Center for the Performing Arts this week.

The building was created in 2000 by remodeling a two-story 19th century farmhouse and attached barn, and it includes a 200-seat theater, a full-service banquet hall, an art gallery and administrative offices. After the building opened, college officials realized that high utility costs would require energy improvements and sought environmentally responsible measures that would reduce fossil fuel use, according to the college.

“The ultimate goal was to improve the building’s structure to not only have less of an environmental impact, but also to increase the cost-efficiency of operations, ideally saving more finances to provide services to the community,” college President Melik Peter Khoury said.

“We’re proud to be able to demonstrate how to modernize an older building for 21st century uses. It’s an example of solving legacy efficiency issues using partnerships, creative thinking and state-of-the-art technology.”

Improvements to the building included replacing incandescent light bulbs with LED lamps, replacing hot water heating coils with an air source heat pump water heater, applying air sealing and insulation in the attic, insulating the basement with spray foam, and replacing air conditioning and oil heaters with programmable air source heat pumps, according to the college.

Unity estimates the building retrofit will save almost $14,800 annually in expenses and use nearly 6,000 fewer gallons of heating oil and 6,300 fewer kilowatts of electricity.

The $107,373 project was partially financed with a $39,520 grant from the Grants to Green Maine program and $12,850 in rebates from Efficiency Maine and the heat pump manufacturer, according to the college. 

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