The University of New Mexico Physical Plant Department was recently honored with two prestigious awards from the New Mexico Association of Energy Engineers (NMAEE). UNM PPD’s Engineering & Energy Services division received the Corporate Energy Management award, while Don Swick, PPD University facilities engineer, received the Energy Engineer of the Year award. 

The awards are presented to a “corporation, agency, or organization for outstanding accomplishments in developing, organizing, managing and implementing their corporate energy management program,” and to an individual for “outstanding accomplishments in promoting the practices, principles and procedures of energy engineering.”

Committed to reducing energy consumption on campus since the 1970s, UNM has saved an estimated $22 million in energy costs since 2008 (an 18.5 percent reduction in overall energy usage) due to innovative, savvy technology and the expertise of PPD Engineering & Energy Services staff over the last 10 years.

In 2003, Bob Notary, associate director of PPD Engineering and Energy Services, proposed the reintroduction of a UNM Energy Conservation Program.  The focus on commissioning and retrofitting buildings with high-tech building automation system (BAS) software and hardware allows technicians to monitor building HVAC systems, affecting temperatures in the buildings in the most efficient way. 

For example, in the evening when certain buildings are not in use, the BAS allows for the building temperature to rise/fall, similar to sleep-mode on your computer.  The BAS also enables technicians to troubleshoot problems before they are felt by building occupants, which increases customer comfort.

Facilities Engineer Don Swick received NMAEE's Energy Engineer of the Year award.

Swick has been an engineer in New Mexico for over 35 years and has contributed greatly to the success of UNM’s energy reduction program.  Working both in the private and public sector, Swick’s broad understanding of what it takes to design and implement projects at a “very high research institution” are unparalleled. 

In the two years since Swick began working at UNM, he has been involved in six major HVAC, controls and lighting replacement projects at various buildings across campus including Novitski Hall, Northrop Hall, Art Building, Regener Hall, Woodward Hall, and Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering building. Each project resulted in annual energy savings of approximately 40 percent in each building. 

Swick works in a team environment of 18 staff that has helped to make the PPD division a success. They are able to commission and re-commission buildings, install BAS equipment, monitor the software, repair the equipment, and provide a high level of customer service to the campus community. This is the most cost-effective way of operating such a complex monitoring system.

As part of the project, the PPD Engineering & Energy Services staff decided to use distinctive green colored panel boxes and conduits for the BAS installations. 

“These systems are easily recognizable and serve as a source of pride for the personnel involved, resulting in higher quality and productivity for our employees,” said Notary. “These awards are a wonderful acknowledgement of the great work that our group is doing and the support that we have enjoyed from the entire PPD department and the UNM community.”