Published: Jan 14, 2011 8:06 PM EST
Updated: Jan 14, 2011 5:06 PM EST

NAPLES, Fla - What is 45 feet in diameter, stands 45 feet tall and holds a half million gallons of water? It’s the new Thermal Energy Storage System on the Edison State College Collier Campus.

“Being environmentally conscious and implementing practices to reduce our carbon footprint is important to us,” said Dr. Jeff Allbritten, Campus President. “This is another way for us to continually work toward that goal.”

The tank, which is now fully operational, is the result of conversations between Edison State College and Florida Power & Light that began about 18 months ago.

“It’s one of the unheralded ways to reduce our energy needs and increase efficiency,” said Steve Nice, Facilities Planning & Management, Edison State College. “FPL approached us a little over 18 months ago and wanted to conduct feasibility and engineering studies on all three of our campuses at their cost.”

After studying the Collier, Lee and Charlotte campuses, it was decided that Collier would benefit the most, initially. The idea received the support of district president, Dr. Walker, and the Edison State College Trustees to move forward with the project.

“It's not new technology, but very effective in helping FPL because they don’t have to build additional power plants for peak period times,” said Nice. “This plan helps us because with the two new buildings, we would have had to replace one of the old chillers with a much larger one to accommodate the additional square footage.  With this plan we were able to buy a smaller one and save some dollars.”

Construction of two new buildings, the Allen & Marla Weiss Health Sciences Hall and the Student Services Building, will add over 80,000 square feet of classroom and administrative space. The campus now functions at near capacity with its current systems that heat and cool 151,000 square feet.

Nice said the Thermal Energy Storage system allows the Collier campus to take advantage of FPL’s lower rates by utilizing off-peak times.

“In the course of a day, our buildings call for our chillers to provide cool air to keep our administrative offices and classrooms comfortable,” said Nice. “By chilling water from midnight to 4 a.m., we can take advantage of lower, off-peak rates. This new tank holds 500,000 gallons of water which will more than meet our needs, including the two new buildings now under construction.”

Nice added that the project, which is estimated to cost $1M, includes the cost of the $600,000 tank and a new Chiller. Edison State College will get about $300,000 in rebates from FPL. Ultimately, it will reduce the Collier campus’ annual energy bill by $75,000 - $80,000. The new system, he said, will pay for itself in just a few years.