COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Following an intensive effort to make Kyle Field state-of-the-art in terms of energy performance, Texas A&M saved $547,041 from April 2019 to March 2020.
“With a venue as large as Kyle Field, even the smallest of changes will produce enormous benefits,” said Kevin Hurley, who oversees Texas A&M’s Athletic Complex as Senior Associate Athletics Director for Facilities, Events and Construction. “Saving over a half-million dollars in our first year is a great accomplishment, but it’s also just the initial step in a long-term process and plan to be good stewards of the monetary support provided by the 12th Man Foundation and its donors. The success of this initiative was the result of a total team effort from basically every person that walked through the gates of Kyle Field.”
After a comprehensive dive into understanding how Kyle Field was designed to operate and then observing how the facility was being used, members of the Athletics Facilities and Operations team and Texas A&M Utilities and Energy Services (UES) identified ways to tailor and custom-program the heating/ventilation/air-conditioning operations around the facility. A list of opportunities was created and vetted in meetings and walk-throughs with the building’s occupants. The result was a laundry list of action items implemented over the course of a year.
The changes made at the facility ranged from something as simple as closing a door to something as complex as an energy “closeout” at the conclusion of the football season.
There were a myriad of changes made in operations, but UES Supervisor of Energy Performance Improvement (EPI) Christopher Dieckert says the most significant changes were scheduling unused spaces and adjusting the sequence of operations for all mechanical systems in the stadium. A raising of the awareness of how the building operates among the facility’s occupants was also a big factor.
There were four months in which over $50,000 in savings were realized during the 12-month period, including a pre-COVID-19 high of $55,139 in July 2019 along with $76,821 in March 2020
The dollar figure for the avoided cost was determined by setting a pre-EPI operational baseline for chilled water, heating hot water and electricity consumption through weather-normalized modeling from January 2018 to December 2018. Beginning in April 2019, the hourly consumption data for all three utilities was reviewed every month and the difference between the pre-EPI operational baseline consumption and actual consumption were calculated to provide the monthly avoided consumption.
The tremendous results are not expected to be a one-time deal. A big part of the program was to address behavioral issues at the occupant level, like closeout protocols post football season, unreasonable request for temperature adjustments or scheduling and doors left open to the outside.
“If the current mode of operation is maintained and the new practices are upheld, then Kyle Field should realize the same amount, if not more, in savings next year,” Dieckert said. “UES made changes during the winter months at the end of the program and we have not reached the summer months where the savings from those adjustments will be realized.”
The EPI Program not only expects to make Kyle Field more energy efficient, but also improve the gameday experience. The most recent step in the process was replacing the outside air temperature sensor. The new sensor allows for more efficient utilization of energy at Kyle Field.
“This sensor drives decisions at the air handling level sequence of operations,” Dieckert Said. “The building automation systems program determines the amount of cooling or heating that is needed to meet comfort requirements and the dehumidification set points inside each space based upon this sensor. In addition, fully understanding outside air conditions is pivotal to augmenting the game day operations to ensure that all in attendance have a great experience.
The Athletics Energy Conservation Committee is in its early stages of building a program that will include all athletic facility managers, SSC Maintenance and Custodial and UES. The committee covers a wide range of topics, but the primary goal is to take the lessons learned at Kyle Field and apply them at all facilities, as applicable. With the success of the EPI Program at Kyle Field, many of the changes may be tried at Texas A&M’s other athletics venues like Blue Bell Park, Davis Diamond and Cushing Stadium.
“Many of these ideas can be expanded to all of the athletics facilities across campus,” Dieckert said. “EPI’s goal is to go through all facilities on campus eventually.”
The conservation efforts at Kyle Field were spearheaded by Scot Obergefell, who was recently promoted to Assistant Athletics Director for Facilities, Events and Construction. In his current role, he serves the facility operations unit, where he provides strategic direction and oversight, including management of department day-to-day operations, coordination of the department's contract and relationship with SSC Custodial and Maintenance, as well as assisting with capital projects. He leads the department’s sustainability efforts as a member of the Universities Sustainability Advisory Council.
During his time in College Station, Obergefell has touched nearly every aspect of facilities. He began work as the West Campus Facilities Manager in December 2014, managing and coordinating facility operations at Blue Bell Park, the Aggie Softball complex, Ellis Field, Mitchell Tennis Center, West Campus Player Development Center and the Cox McFerrin Center for Aggie basketball. From 2017-19, Obergefell was Director of Facilities and General Manager of Kyle Field. In the role, he led the team that managed the 102,733-seat venue, overseeing day-to-day operations of the largest football stadium in Texas.