Since partnering with an energy specialist in 2014, the campus has saved 26 percent of its energy costs, a consultant said.
James Parker, energy specialist for Synergistic, said most of the cost savings come from increased efficiency for heating and cooling with the campus’ HVAC system. He said over the last three and a half years, the campus has saved 19,318 metric tons of carbon dioxide on its 2.3 million square feet of facilities. This is the equivalent of 500,000 trees over a ten-year period or taking 4,000 cars off the road.
“We don’t have earth day, we do this every day,” Parker said. “When the students go home for the summer, we’re still doing this. We’re constantly measuring and evaluating how our systems are responding.”
Parker said energy savings not only help the environment, but also save the university money. The most recent data from February shows the university is on track to meet its goal of saving $750,000 for June 2017-May 2018.
“What we strive for is cost-avoidance,” Parker said. “That’s the money you didn’t spend on utilities that you can spend where you need.”
Parker worked with the facilities team to schedule heating and cooling systems better so empty buildings aren’t wasting energy. The team also tries to make sure lights are turned off in buildings overnight. Parker said the weakest area for energy saving is residence halls. He said many students don’t turn off lights or air conditioning systems in their dorms when they leave for the day.
“Students come to school, they don’t think about that,” Parker said. “We’re trying to raise awareness that every light switch matters, every thermostat matters.”
Turning off the lights in just one classroom can make a difference because of the large number of classrooms, offices and break rooms across campus, Parker said.
“People don’t realize they have the liberty to turn a light switch off,” Parker said.