The U.S. Department of Interior recently awarded the Northern Marianas College a $300,000 grant award to replace antiquated air-conditioning equipment with energy efficient units.
The funds will be used to implement a high-efficiency air-conditioning unit retrofit project, which will be overseen by the college’s facilities manager, John Guerrero.
“We are extremely grateful to have been selected to receive this substantial grant from the Department of the Interior,” said Guerrero. “That agency receives many, many grant proposals every year, and we are glad that the college’s efforts to become even more energy efficient has been recognized as one of the priorities.”
“I commend dean Ross Manglona, John Guerrero, and others at the college for their work in preparing this grant proposal,” said NMC president Sharon Hart, Ph.D. “I know they are already working on identifying other additional sources of funding that we can tap for the benefit of our students.”
In the grant proposal, the college indicated that it currently has about 160 air-conditioning units, of which 136 need to be replaced.
According to Guerrero, most of the existing A/C units at the college also have a low “seasonal energy efficiency ratio” (SEER rating), which means that the units are operating with very low efficiency. Additionally, they use the R22 refrigerant, which is being phased out in the U.S. due to its very high potential to exacerbate ozone-depletion.
“The grant will allow the college to retrofit its air-conditioning units to reduce dependence on imported fossil fuels and to reduce operational costs at NMC,” said Guerrero. “It will also allow us to reduce kilowatt usage for cooling by 25 percent upon installation of new units.”
The grant award to NMC was made through the U.S. Department of Interior Office of Insular Affairs’ Empowering Insular Communities program. The confirmation of the award was made in a letter addressed to Hart from acting assistant secretary for insular affairs Eileen Sobeck.
The air-conditioning retrofit project is part of the college’s overall efforts to reduce its utility expenses. Since last year, the college has instituted a number of other energy-saving measures, including the installation of LED lights in all classrooms and offices, limitations on air-condition use throughout the day, and other measures.
“We will continue to aggressively pursue other initiatives that reduce the college’s expenses on its utilities and that promote more environmentally-friendly activities,” said Hart. (NMC)