The Greenwich, Conn., YMCA facility is saving an estimated $60,000 annually with the installation of an energy-efficient co-generation system. This amount is half of the total energy costs for their 150,000-sq-ft facility. The YMCA previously used an outdated, inefficient boiler system. Seeing the need for greater energy efficiency, they hired Intelligent Solutions, Inc. (ISI) as the system designer. Located in Carson City, Nev., ISI replaced the YMCA's outdated system with an energy-saving 60kW natural gas induction co-generation system. The unit provides electrical power, hot water, space heating, and pool heating for the facility.

The co-generation system offsets current utility costs in two ways. First, the direct-coupled generator (powered by the natural gas-fired reciprocating engine) produces high-quality electricity. Secondly, the exhaust and oil heat exchangers allow the YMCA to use the engine's waste heat for hot water and space heating.

"The YMCA previously used natural gas and electricity from the utility," explains Bob Miller, ISI executive vice president. "The new system replaces 47% of the facility's commercial electric requirements, burning natural gas at a lower rate and creating heat and hot water."

"By installing this unit, we cut the facility's electric bill dramatically. The payback on the project is proposed to be 2.2 years," says Dick Winslow, director of marketing and administrative services, Greenwich division, Connecticut Natural Gas Company. "And the units are guaranteed to operate 7,800 hours a year for 10 years."

By using natural gas to offset electricity consumption and the resulting engine heat to warm the building, the system makes electricity, domestic hot water heating, and pool heating less costly.

Winslow and Connecticut Natural Gas initiated the program. They purchased the system from ISI and now lease it to the YMCA. The YMCA pays Connecticut Natural Gas a portion of its savings for 10 years, while Connecticut Natural Gas provides ongoing maintenance on the unit.

We are already seeing a 50% savings on energy costs and anticipate this type of savings for the life of the system," says Miller.