Carlos Montanez and OPP Promote Energy Efficient Programs on Campus

Carlos Montanez is leading the effort to make Big Blue a little more green. Montanez, the Associate Director of Maintenance and Utilities at the Office of the Physical Plant, was recently asked to serve as a panelist at a web seminar conference on “Energy Metering” sponsored by the US Department of Energy (DOE). This offer follows up a visit to Montanez by a DOE senior analyst four years ago, during which Montanez demonstrated the energy monitoring system OPP uses to keep track of energy usage on the Phillips Academy campus. The metering system was put in place years ago in all Phillips Academy buildings—academic buildings, administrative buildings, and dorms—and allows the school to gauge the amount of energy being used in a building at any point in time. The results, which are continually compiled and published at the end of every month in the Andover Gazette, allow OPP to identify areas of the school that could use improvements to increase their energy efficiency. Examples of changes OPP has implemented include the recently renovated Johnson dormitory. During the renovation, direct digital control (DDC) was installed, allowing Johnson’s heat, temperature, and other electrical needs to be, as Carlos Montanez put it, “controlled with a click of a mouse.” As a result, OPP is able to remotely manage the dorm’s energy consumption, simultaneously saving the school money and reducing the output of greenhouse gases. Last year, OPP, with the help of Chemistry Lab and Safety Instructor Chand Sripad, Instructor in Chemistry and Head of the Chemistry Department Kevin Cardozo, and Head of the Science Department Trish Russell, updated the controls to Gelb Science Center’s fume hoods, among other changes, to improve the building’s energy efficiency. Montanez cited these improvements in Gelb as an example of how OPP is always looking to determine “where it makes sense to invest infrastructure and where we can achieve good return on our investment.” Even relatively new programs and buildings are constantly under evaluation, as new technology makes it possible to both save Phillps Academy money and decrease the school’s detrimental influences on the environment. This summer, Montanez helped in an effort by OPP to improve the four-year-old Harrison Ice Rink. By replacing the rink’s dehumidifying system with a new, state-of-the-art system, the school is expected to see a return on its investment in very little time; the more efficient $400,000 dehumidifier should essentially pay for itself in three to four years through savings in natural gas costs. Carlos Montanez emphasized the fact that these efforts by OPP are not independently performed, either by him or by the entire office. Montanez’s decisions are “based on the good input of [his] teams,” and OPP’s implementation of each suggestion is “a collaborative effort” that takes into account school administrators, faculty, and students. Last year, the inaugural Green Cup Challenge demonstrated the group effort Montanez spoke about. Students and other members of the Andover community responded so well to the competition that OPP, along with Sustainability Coordinator and Instructor in Environmental Science Becky Bogdanovitch, hopes to expand the effort towards sustainability. They will list more dorms on the metering screen that was placed on the first floor of Gelb last year during the competition. Montanez said that OPP is “always looking at ways to bring energy awareness…to the community,” and was encouraged by the fact that so many students and members of the Andover community found the Green Cup Challenge to be a beneficial initiative. Montanez, who joined the OPP ranks in 1994 after being a chief engineer at Texaco, loves the impact his line of work can have on both the school and the environment. He added that the impact wouldn’t be possible without the competent and knowledgeable professionals employed with OPP. Though much of the work performed by these community members is done during the summer or behind-the-scenes, they constantly develop and implement new ways to increase energy efficiency. The school’s energy metering system helps identify areas for improvement, allowing OPP follows through. Innovations both save money and time: last year, OPP, with the help of Bogdanovitch, installed compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) in dorms; this particular improvement becomes almost maintenance-free for five years, because it eliminates the need to change bulbs or replace light fixtures. Carlos Montanez enjoys his work. “It’s really neat,” he said, “when you can go to work with a smile on your face.” The DOE has noticed this enthusiasm and points to Phillips Academy as an example of good technology use to other organizations. On campus, OPP’s devotion to energy efficiency has become what Montanez called a “self-fulfilling prophecy,” with continual improvements and upgrades allowing the school to take advantage of the latest technology.