A great university emerges from a disastrous hurricane – more efficient and stronger than ever
At a Glance
- $71 million — Guaranteed savings from two performance contracts with Johnson Controls for heating, cooling, lighting, steam system, and water conservation improvements.
- 87% — Percentage of students who returned in January 2006 after hurricane-related repairs.
- $15 million — Value of federal grant for a medical school laboratory expansion made possible by campus infrastructure improvements.
The challenge: Rebuild, reopen, expand, and renew after Hurricane Katrina
Tulane University, founded in 1834, is one of the most respected independent research universities in the United States and the largest private employer in New Orleans. When Hurricane Katrina hit the city on August 29, 2005, it left most of the historic main campus under water and caused damages and losses exceeding $650 million. The campus closed, and 12,000 students and 5,000 faculty and staff were dispersed to other universities. Tulane’s survival depended on reopening for the spring semester in January 2006, but university leaders weren’t content just to survive. They wanted to proceed with pre-storm plans to expand and revitalize the university’s energy management infrastructure – and they were determined to bring the school back even stronger and more appealing than it had been. However, given the massive costs of rebuilding, Tulane lacked the borrowing capacity for all necessary improvements.
The solution: Fast-track storm repairs along with major energy- and water-saving improvements on two campuses
Working in close partnership, Tulane and Johnson Controls tackled the restoration of nearly 60 buildings on the main campus uptown and the School of Medicine in downtown New Orleans. In work totaling more than $40 million, Johnson Controls:
- Brought in 12 megawatts of temporary electric power.
- Completed a storm damage assessment.
- Assembled a team of subcontractors.
- Repaired or replaced more than half of the buildings’ mechanical and electrical equipment.
Meanwhile, Johnson Controls delivered an innovative shared savings agreement to enable major energy-saving upgrades at both campuses. The off-balance-sheet and off-credit financing plan, in which a third party owns the new assets, allowed Tulane to complete the upgrades without investing its own capital. Contractually guaranteed energy and operations savings pay for the projects, while Tulane receives a share of those savings.
Among the improvements is a new three-level central plant on the main campus, with a 4,500-ton York chiller and electrical equipment on the second floor (safe against floods), and an emergency communications center on the third floor. The $17 million project also included:
- Steam system improvements.
- Optimization of existing chillers, boilers, and cogeneration equipment.
- Retrofitting of 4,000 light and 4,000 plumbing fixtures with higher-efficiency units.
The Health Sciences Campus, which includes Tulane’s medical school saw $28 million in laboratory and campus environment improvements, including a new cooling tower, water pumps, boilers, air-handling units, switchgear, ductwork, and York chillers with energy-saving variable-frequency drives.
Results and benefits
Tulane reopened on schedule in January 2006, returning 87 percent of its students to school and putting thousands of people back to work. University leaders agreed that the quick recovery and the campus improvements would not have been possible without technical and financial support such as what Johnson Controls supplied.
These two improvement projects are expected to provide $71 million in guaranteed savings over 12 years. Expected utility impacts include:
- 43 percent reduction in natural gas consumption.
- 11 percent reduction in water consumption.
- Reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of 119,000 tons of CO2 per year (equivalent to taking 23,400 cars off the road).
In addition, the infrastructure upgrades at the School of Medicine enabled Tulane to take full advantage of a $15 million National Institutes of Health grant for a mission-critical laboratory expansion.
Today, Tulane attracts more student applicants than ever – nearly 44,000 in 2010, more than twice as many as in 2004. Students come seeking not just education but an opportunity to give back through community rebuilding projects: Since 2006, Tulane students are required to perform public service for the betterment of New Orleans**.
Together, Tulane and Johnson Controls made impacts that reach beyond physical improvements – strengthening a venerable institution, helping to restore a major city, and enriching students’ lives.
We didn’t have the borrowing capacity we would have had pre-Katrina and needed a financial solution that fit our circumstances. Johnson Controls worked with us and a third-party to make it happen.
– Doug Harrell, Vice President of Finance, Tulane University