College Uses Data-Driven Assessments To Save Energy and Improve Campus

College Uses Data-Driven Assessments To Save Energy and Improve Campus

$2 million

in electric cost avoidance in 2022


BTU/GSF reduction


cities served

Challenge: Striving to Live up to High Expectations

Lorain County Community College has a reputation among nearby campuses for being the first community college in Ohio to offer four-year bachelor’s degrees and for being the first to have a permanent campus. Serving two cities and rural communities, Lorain consistently rates among the top for student success.

However, as Lorain saw continued growth and success in academics, their aging facilities started to fall behind. Feedback about facilities from students and staff indicated that there were issues that needed to be addressed in order to bring facilities performance in line with the community’s high expectations. Students and staff were experiencing HVAC downtime, making learning conditions less than ideal. Leadership ultimately concluded that it was time for something to be done.

Solution: Using Data to Craft a Story

The first challenge that Lorain addressed was the need for dedicated facilities leadership. To address that, Lorain brought on Leo Mahoney as Director of Physical Plant and Construction Management. With decades-long experience managing facilities and grounds, Mahoney understood what Lorain was up against. He recognized that Lorain needed a comprehensive understanding of how their facilities performance stacked up with peers. Mahoney was seeking a partner with a long-standing reputation for providing data-first facilities assessments and comprehensive peer benchmarking data. He found the answer in Gordian’s ROPA solutions.

Gordian’s ROPA solutions enabled Lorain’s facilities leadership to make well-informed, data-driven facilities management decisions with an analysis of their campus space use, facilities-related capital investments and operational profile. Our team of data professionals benchmarked those findings against the performance of peer institutions so Lorain could see a clear picture of how they stack up against similar schools. That data is stored in an online portal that leadership can access 24/7. Using this data, Gordian helped Lorain make a stronger case to senior leadership for appropriate funding and staffing by telling a complete and contextual campus story.

“ROPA is a security blanket for us.” – Jonathan Volpe, Vice President of Administrative Services and Treasurer, Lorain County Community College

Getting the external data to validate the observations that students and staff had been making helped seal the deal. The assessment provided tangible evidence that Lorain’s facilities could benefit from further investment in energy efficiency. Using the data, Gordian helped Jonathan Volpe, Vice President of Administrative Services/Treasurer, and Mahoney to craft the narrative needed to secure financial support. When asked about how integral the data-supported story was to achieving Mahoney’s facilities goals, he remarked, “Without it, we don’t know that we would’ve gotten to the finish line.”

Result: Accessing Support for Campus Improvement

As a result of the ROPA analysis, Lorain Community College was able to increase staffing levels using custodial contracts and access the funds needed to better operate and maintain their campus. The funding allowed the college to address a backlog of deferred maintenance and improve the efficiency of their facilities.

“Without it, we don’t know that we would’ve gotten to the finish line.” – Leo Mahoney, Director, Physical Plan and Construction Management, Lorain County Community College

Lorain was able to put in place an energy performance project, using Ohio’s House Bill 7, to address mechanical deferred maintenance like their aging HVAC systems. This led to a significant decrease in downtime and complaints and a significant reduction in energy consumption and related costs — so much that when other colleges saw an increase in energy consumption following the return of students after COVID, Lorain CC continued to see decreases in consumption.

From analyzing the data, Lorain identified the gap in investment in the campus’ infrastructure. Because they were able to hire facilities leadership and address the facilities shortfalls they had, Volpe feels Lorain is “following a completely different trajectory.” They are now able to triage issues with more confidence and sleep better at night knowing that facilities are no longer vulnerable. In Volpe’s words, “ROPA is a security blanket for us.”

With the funds they saved, at more than $200,000 per year, Lorain is looking forward to what’s next for their facilities. They’re currently embarking on creating a new facilities master plan to continue their forward trajectory for the next ten years, including investing $5B to renovate their conference center. This master plan also includes ways Lorain can repurpose existing space to align better with the new strategic plan.

About Gordian

Gordian is the leading provider of Building Intelligence™ Solutions, delivering unrivaled insights, robust technology and expert services to fuel customers’ success through all phases of the building lifecycle. Gordian created Job Order Contracting (JOC) and the industry-standard RSMeans Data. We empower organizations to optimize capital investments, improve project performance and minimize long-term operating expenses.