MHCC to Achieve Environmental and Cost Benefits from HVAC Fan Replacement Project

Posted: August 6, 2013

Mt. Hood Community College (MHCC) and Johnson Controls, an energy optimization company, are partnering on a three-phase project that will replace aging HVAC fans on the Gresham Campus with modern, energy-efficient equipment. This project is expected to generate $4.65 million in savings over the next 25 years. The college will also become eligible for tax incentive rebates from Energy Trust of Oregon totaling approximately $390,000.

The current HVAC (heating, ventilating and air conditioning) fans were installed 45 – 48 years ago. “They are fragile, unreliable, inefficient and expensive to maintain,” says Richard Byers, MHCC director of Facilities. “They have far outlasted their expected lifespan of 25 years.”

Currently, six giant fans, each about the size of a delivery truck, control the circulation of heated and chilled air throughout the Academic Center, the largest building on the Gresham Campus. “We will replace all the original fans with entire walls of smaller, more efficient units, each about the size of a stove,” says Byers. “Each of our HVAC rooms will be equipped with 9-12 new fans.”

State-of-the-art instrumentation will continuously monitor the HVAC system and deliver just-right temperature air as needed, based on time of day and other factors. In short, the new system will be more responsive to changes in weather and demands coming from individual spaces.

“It is a cutting-edge system that will bring our college into the 21st century of energy efficiency and environmental conservation,” says Byers.

Guaranteed Savings
The project comes with an energy savings guarantee in which Johnson Controls measures and verifies the HVAC system’s performance each quarter for the next seven years. If the expected savings are not achieved, Johnson Controls is contractually obligated to issue a check to MHCC each year for the difference.

Project Timelines
Phase one will occur Aug. 12 – Sept. 27; phase two, Sept. 23 – Oct. 25; and phase 3, Oct. 21 – Nov. 27. Each phase will focus on a different geographic zone of the Academic Center. The center houses classrooms, labs, library, Student Union and employee offices. The College Theatre, Studio Theatre, Cosmetology and Orientation Center are also housed in the Academic Center, but will not be affected during any of the three phases.

During removal of the old fans and installation of the new ones, the affected zone will be without heating, cooling or circulation. Dozens of portable fans will be brought in for air circulation.

Plans are underway to help make the next few months more comfortable for students, employees and campus visitors. Options under consideration include discounted fans that plug into computer USB ports and, during the cool autumn months, hot chocolate and MHCC sweatshirts. Some classes may be relocated, depending on room temperatures.

“We regret the inconvenience this project may cause,” says Byers, “and we appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding. This is the absolute best time for us to undertake this project for both cost and project completion reasons. We recognize that room temperatures may be warmer or cooler than usual, but in the end, we will have a system that operates efficiently, reduces energy consumption and produces immediate and significant cost savings to the college.”

Both the College and Student Body are Committed to Sustainability
The project will add to the environmentally sustainable or “green” initiatives that Associated Student Government (ASG) brought to the college in recent years. In May, ASG donated three picnic tables that double as solar-powered charging stations for laptops, cellphones, cameras and other electronic devices. MHCC is the first college west of the Mississippi River, and the first community college in the country, to install these charging stations.

A year ago, ASG donated 12 filling stations that replace traditional drinking fountains and give students the ability to refill their own bottles with filtered water. A metering system tracks the equivalent number of plastic bottles that were prevented from going into landfills (approximately 20,000 per station – and counting!). The previous year, ASG donated a number of brightly-colored recycling bins that serve as collection points for glass, plastic, paper and garbage. They also serve as good conversation starters about the ease and importance of recycling.

Other Improvements Completed in 2010
In partnership with Johnson Controls, the college completed several projects in 2010 that also reduce the college’s carbon footprint, such as installation of a new central plant, lighting improvements, wireless controls, solar heating for the swimming pools, plumbing fixtures and a number of other items. These projects are producing cost savings of $665,000 per year.

MHCC Works with Contractor to Assure Air Quality For HVAC Project

HVAC Replacement Project Completed (photos)

For more information, please contact the Office of College Advancement, 503-491-7204 or

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 Last Modified: 12/10/2013 11:38:27 AM