Towering Efforts: Cityplex Sustainability Initiatives Lead to Awards, Savings

Cityplex Towers

When David King thinks about green, it’s for two reasons: the environment and the economy.

King, Director of Energy Management for ORU and for the CityPlex Towers, has led award-winning and money-saving sustainability efforts on both campuses.

When he took the job in 2010, he knew he needed to make some changes. The first: to get rid of boilers that were originally intended for a 900-bed hospital. After a year of investigation, King and his team determined the appropriate size boiler for the needs of the three buildings and embarked on a two-year odyssey to change them over without disrupting the tenants in the oft-busy CityPlex.

The savings were astounding. Over the course of the next several years, King and his team began to see head-spinning results.

"We dropped 71 percent in our annual gas consumption from 2009 to 2014," King says, while the period between 2008 and 2016 saw the boilers going from 30 percent efficiency to 93 percent. "We went from one extreme to the other."

But that's just the start of the environmental and sustainability improvements that have happened over the past few years. There have been new heat exchangers that use cold winter air to manage year-round cooling needs, and, among other things, new sub-meters that help King and his team keep learning how the building uses energy.  

 "We've made efforts in monitoring utility usage," King says. "We have electric sub-meters on all buildings to help us understand how we use the power that we buy. Also we sub-meter water used for air conditioning cooling towers and lawn irrigation so we can control usage and minimize waste."

And here's the latest (literally) cool thing: they've installed a system to recover and reuse condensation from the air conditioners. The anticipated recovery this year? A million gallons. That's water that can be reused for cooling and in other areas of CityPlex.

"David King and his group have saved ORU millions of dollars," says Dr. John Korstad, Professor of Biology. "And they're helping me and other faculty members in our classes as we seek to assist ORU students in learning about the economic, environmental, social justice, and other practical aspects of sustainability."

Everything is a teachable moment to King. "The main thing students should understand about using electric and water wisely," he says, "is that it’s not only good for the environment, but the cost saving is reinvested back into the university in other ways that benefit the students."

It makes sense King would say that. Turns out it's just the way he thinks.