ACU’s school color is purple, but a new partnership with Cenergistic Energy Conservation Company is looking to make campus little more green.
ACU has entered a five-year contract with Cenergistic in an effort to conserve energy on campus.
Cenergistic is an energy conservation company that works within schools, churches and healthcare institutions to save energy and money on their campuses.
Corey Ruff, executive director of facilities and campus management, said Cenergistic has a proven track record with other institutions like ACU, focusing mainly on behavioral changes toward energy use rather than equipment replacement.
“They basically just help hold each of us accountable, very much like a personal trainer helps motivate their trainee to be successful at reaching their goals,” Ruff said.
Jan Noel-Smith, Cenergistic’s media correspondent, said EnergyCAP projects ACU will have a net savings of $6.4 million over the next 10 years.
“This is very exciting and will help assist ACU in addressing the affordability question that much of higher education is facing,” Ruff said. “This will allow ACU to use millions of dollars, which would have been sent to the utility companies, for other, more strategic initiatives to help further the mission of ACU.”
Noel-Smith said most students will actually begin to notice a lot of changes around campus in the future. Within the next few years, energy experts will inspect everything on ACU’s campus that uses energy, from the biggest air conditioning units to the printers and fax machines.
These energy specialists will conduct audits at various times to look at all of the systems on campus and see how they are running. Each utility bill paid by ACU will be evaluated and inputted into software called “Energy Cap” to identify opportunities for savings.
“Without this type of analysis, the bills just get paid,” Noel-Smith said. “This software allows us to really compare apples to apples.”
Noel-Smith called this look at ACU’s energy use an “energy safari” starting with the big items and working down to the small details.
“We want to look at how things are used, why they are used and how things should be used to be the most efficient,” Noel-Smith said.
Most energy analysis will occur when people are out of the buildings, but conservation efforts will affect how students, faculty and staff use the campus.
“We are in the early stages of the Cenergistic program,” Ruff said. “So far, we have been focusing our efforts on unoccupied times, so the campus has not really noticed any changes. Eventually, the university will adopt some energy conservation guidelines that will help keep us on track.”
After energy audits occur, the engineers, along with ACU’s physical resource team, will devise an energy management action plan to reduce energy cost and maximize system efficiency on campus.
This push towards a greener campus will impact students, faculty and staff in practical ways.
“The great thing about sustainability initiatives is they cross all boundaries and allow everyone to participate and do their part,” Ruff said. “Being good stewards of resources that God has so graciously blessed us with just naturally falls hand-in-hand with the mission of ACU.”
Students living in on-campus housing and dormitories will be asked to help save energy.
“We’re going to ask people do to things they would do if they were the ones paying the bills,” Noel-Smith said. “We want to educate ACU’s campus on using energy wisely.”
Simple changes like unplugging dorm room devices when they aren’t being used could add to big savings in the future.
Cenergistic is nationally recognized for their work with their clients and the successful results they consistently produce. On average, clients have about 27 percent savings in energy.
Though the contract with Cenergistic is for the next five years, Noel-Smith said it is a program that should never end. Continued programs will still be provided to ACU at no extra cost even after the contract is up.
“The cheapest unit of energy is the one that’s never made,” Noel-Smith said. “The cleanest is one that’s never created.”
The team behind implementing these changes hope they will lead to more sustainable usage of systems and facilities on ACU’s campus, all while saving money and energy.
“Along with an exceptional education, we are equipping our students for Christian service and to be leaders in every aspect of their lives,” Ruff said. “If ACU can model for our students what good stewardship truly looks like and have them partner with us on this journey, then our students can take that with them for the rest of their lives.”