Case Histories (Real-World Solutions)

Efficient Pumps Boost Campus Comfort

intelligent hydronic circulators

Improved energy efficiency and cost savings were two of the major benefits St. John’s University received by installing Gundfos MAGNA3 smart circulators.

Cold weather can create challenges for institutional facility managers, who often must choose between meeting occupant comfort and ever-shrinking physical plant budgets. A case-in-point is St. John’s University in Collegeville, MN, which met its heating goals and saved energy and money thanks to intelligent hydronic circulators.

The Benedictine school’s Peter Engel Science Center was heated via baseboards powered by two primary circulators and four secondary pumps that serviced the building’s four wings. Built in the 1960s, the building’s circulators were oversized and fixed-speed, so the entire system was operating at 100 percent throughout the heating season.

David Schlumpberger, in charge of campus HVAC, wasn’t aware of Grundfos smart circulator technology, which saves energy by continuously fine-tuning power consumption, discharge head and flow rates to meet the heating system’s dynamic needs. In other words, rather than running flat-out at top horsepower, the more energy-efficient option is to start from zero and ramp up to meet the specific demand.

The four new circulators’ intelligent technology was able to achieve the necessary flow rates by expending far less energy. Estimated annual savings reached $693, and the project enjoyed a three-month ROI.

“The bottom line is that the MAGNA3 is sophisticated and capable of doing everything the old pumps did, only better because it’s smart,” says Schlumpberger. During one particularly cold winter, he notes that the system operated at just 25 percent of the old pumps, while keeping the building warm.

According to one team member on the project, this was a huge improvement over the Science Center’s antiquated pumps. This is the only manufacturer that offers a pump that has an integrated logic algorithm to learn the varying energy-usage patterns of an application.

For the foreseeable future and beyond, this university has become immune to the cold, both temperature- and cost-wise.

This article originally appeared in the issue of .