Many people who visit Bridgewater State University are drawn to the stately architecture of Boyden Hall. When Karen W. Jason began working here 20 years ago, she noticed a towering, 150-foot-tall smokestack that symbolized financial inefficiency and environmental degradation.
“I started work and said someday that chimney is coming down,” recalled Jason, vice president for operations.
Jason got her wish thanks to an approximately $2.3 million project that proves spending money can lead to true savings.
The university invested in replacing aging, 1964 boilers fueled by #6 oil with more efficient natural gas ones made by Cleaver-Brooks. The new boilers, which are used to heat most of the west side of campus, came online in 2013 with the now unneeded smokestack demolished in 2015.
The university conducted a feasibility study that estimated a five-year return on its investment, but data shows the improvements paid for themselves in 27 months.
“When you do these kinds of investments, you have to realize a rate of return in a reasonable amount of time,” Jason said.
The university was spending more than $1 million a year to fuel the old boilers – and the expenses kept climbing to about $1.6 million just before the conversion. Since then, annual costs have hovered between $750,000 and $850,000, according to BSU data.
That’s good news for BSU’s budget, but the project’s benefits extend beyond financial. The boilers are smaller and require less staff to operate, giving employees the space and time to work on other tasks.
It’s also a win for the environment as the switch to the new boilers reduced carbon emissions by 31.3 percent.
Jason said BSU leaders were motivated by the opportunity to save money, help the environment, “and to replace equipment that was aged and at the end of its useful life.”
The results speak for themselves. (Story by Brian Benson, University News & Video)