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A Major Step for Solar Heating

A Major Step for Solar Heating

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by Robert Kula from Planning for Higher Education v04n4.
by Robert Kula from Planning for Higher Education v04n4.

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Published by: The Integrated and Well-Planned Campus on Jul 14, 2013
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10/14/2013

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LIJ.
for
higher
education
annin
Vol. 4,
No.4:
5/5
August
1975
A
Major
Step for Solar Heating
An eight year old rapidly growing institution serving the Denver metropolitan area will soon have the nation's largest solarenergy heated installation. To construct the North Campus of the Community College of Denver, state agencies and legislatorshave agreed to fund a project with 8% higher initial costs,
in
anticipation of long-term savings.
In
the article that follows, RobertKula, campus planner at the college, describes the evolution of this significant
project
At
the
time
of
the initial planning meetings
for
theCommunity
College
of Denver's new North
Campus,awareness
ofthe
energy
crisis
was
growing.
During the
winter of
1972-1973,
Denver
had
experienced
a severe
shortage
of
natural gas
and heating
oil. It
then
wentinto
a
critically gasoline-short summer.
The
reality
of
the situation was
broughthome
when the Public
Serv-ice
Company
of
Colorado
issued a
bulletin
in
August.
Natural gas
connections
would
be assured
to new
cus-
tomers
only
for
applications made by the
end
of
the
yearfor
buildings
actually
readyforthe
gas
by
June
30,1974.
Upon
a
study
of
reasonable
alternative sources
of
energy,
fourmajor
factors
led
to
the ultimate
decision
to
design
a
building
with solar
heating.
A
concern
that
the
building
be
sensitive
to
the
site(90 acres
of
rolling farmland).
Itshould
be a
model
ofnon-pollution, intruding
minimally
intothe
natural
landscape
of
irrigation
ponds, ancient cottonwoods,
a .
major
creek
and
a
number ofold farm
buildings.
The
growing
awareness
of
the
finite
nature
of
the
natural gas
supply:
as a
nation
we
seem
to
be
entering
a
non-reversibleperiod where
use is
outrunning
pro-duction.
After many
years
of
tight
controlon
the
cost
of
natural gas,
the
price
was
about
to
go up
significantly.
Conservative
estimates
indicatedat
least
a 300%
in-
crease in
the wellhead
cost
of
gas
by
1990. (The
past
months
have shown
thatthis
prediction may have
been
unrealistically
low:
a 500-800% rise
may
be
more
like-ly.)A
happy combinationof
conditions gives Denver
a
year-round
sunny
climate.
Denver's high altitude and
low
humidity
gives
the
area
more
solar insolationinJanuary than almost
any
other
place
inthe
U.S.
Much
of the
enthusiasm
for
the
project was contri-buted
by
Frank
Bridgers
of
Bridgers
&
Paxton,
consult-ing
mechanical engineers,
who
joined
the design teamin August,
1973.
Their
firm
has been
housed
in a solarheated
office
building
since 1956.
When
they
designed
the
system,
it
was impractical
to
consider
an
economic
payback
of
their additional investment.
Natural
gasseemed
to
be a
virtually
infinite low-cost
resource.
Their
decision
at that
time
was
based on
8
desire
to
operationally
test
their
theories on solar
heating/heat
pump
tech
nology.
The
system
performed
beyond
their
expectations.
Proving Solar Energy's Feasibility
Because
the
college
is a
state-funded facility,
and
it
was
known
from
the outset
that
additionalinitialfunds
would
be needed
for
the solar heating
system,
thedesign team
requested
that
John
D.
Vanderhoof, thenColorado's Governor, authorize
a technical and
finan-
cial
feasibility
study. The
study wasauthorizedin
Oc-
tober,
1973,
completed
in December, 1973, and
im-
mediately reviewed by the Governor's
Science
Advis-
ory
Committee.
The
Committeeendorsed
the
study'sfindings.Subsequently,
the
Joint
Budget Committee
ofthe
Colorado
General
Assembly
heard
testimony
on
the
proposal
and
includedthe
funding
in
the
capital
construction bill
of
1974.
The bill was
passed
andsigned
into
law
by the
Governor.
The
additional
funding
that wasprovided
for
thedesign
and
installation
of
thesolarheating/heat
pump
system amounts
to
a
net
increase
of
8.47%
over
thefunding originally
considered
for
a
conventionally
de-
signed structure.
The
major
additional
cost
factors
in
this
increase are
greatly
improved
insulation, double
glazing
of
all
window
openings, solar collectors
and
their
supporting equipment,
and
additional controlsand operational
monitoring
equipment.Against
these
additional
costs
are
savings
for
omission
of
conven-
tional boilers and
a decrease
in
the
size
ofthe
requiredheating
and
cooling
equipment
because
of
reduced
heat
loss
through
better insulation.

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