College athletics programs often have complex, costly energy demands. Showers, gyms and training areas all require lighting and climate control. Advanced medical sports science equipment ramps up energy consumption as well. It's no surprise then that college athletics programs have been at the forefront of energy efficiency building practices. In fact, a press release from the Natural Resource Defense Council notes that over 200 college athletic departments have already invested in energy-saving initiatives like solar panels and strategies to save water and electricity. Gyms looking to follow the sustainable example of major programs in the the Pac-12 and SEC implement these solutions.
Perform energy audit
The NRDC Greening Advisor for Collegiate Athletics & Recreation recommends that athletic facilities use an energy audit to determine where their buildings need the most help. Areas of waste or inefficiency can be exposed by evaluating the daily energy consumption of an entire building or campus. This data can then be used to inform an athletic facility's efficiency plan. Important systems to examine include lighting, heating and air distribution. Facility managers should pay close attention to problems that appear negligible, including small leaks or dirty filters. These small issues tend to build up until they begin to dominate a facility's budget. Thankfully, a comprehensive investigation of a facility's sustainability can yield significant results. For example, the University of Minnesota athletics department participated in an 8-stage efficiency initiative in 2010 that ultimately resulted in over $400,000 of savings annually.
Invest in greener operations
A simple way to improve the energy efficiency of an athletics facility is to upgrade appliances and utilities. A set of low-flow shower heads, for instance, could reduce water waste in the facility's locker room. Colleges looking to improve energy and water efficiency at the same time should look into tankless water heaters. Supplying hot water to sinks and showers with a tankless system helps to eliminate the water and energy being wasted while hot water is not in use. Traditional reservoir heaters burn extra fuel intermittently to keep water at the right temperature, while a tankless model delivers hot water on demand. Top of the line models are 99 percent energy efficient, ensuring that athletic facilities are paying as little as possible for hot water.
More uses for tankless water heaters
Central heating is not the only way an athletics facility can benefit from a tankless water heater. A variety of applications are available for tankless technology in gyms and training facilities including hydrotherapy, saunas, cleaning equipment and running water for vendor facilities. Managing the unique hot water needs of each of these points of use can be difficult to pull off. The problem is even more difficult when facilities are trying to improve cost-efficiency. Facility managers can save money and reduce long term costs by installing tankless water heaters as temperature boosters. High-end tankless heaters include temperature controls accurate to a single degree, so each can heater can be set to meet the exact needs of its corresponding point of use.