Stewardship: I have always liked using this word to describe the responsible management of the things entrusted to our care, whether it’s money, people, grounds, vehicles, buildings, and even energy.
The sad truth is that we have not been very good stewards when it comes to energy conservation and management. Our culture has been that energy is “free” or the costs associated with energy waste are “insignificant.” Thankfully, the new TU2016 Plan puts forth sustainability and energy conservation as university-wide goals.
So where are we today? Here are some of the positive things as I see them:
1. Automated HVAC Control System
Over the past decade we have been steadily investing in the digital control of all new heating, air conditioning, and ventilation (HVAC) systems. This new HVAC system is completely web-based, giving Facilities Management the ability to control and monitor HVAC systems from any web browser, on campus, at home or on the go with their smart phones. Now our maintenance personnel can readily see from floor plan and equipment graphics what issues might confront them first thing in the morning well before any calls come into our Work Control Center.
2. Computer Power Management
Back in late 2006, in cooperation with the Office of Technology Services (OTS), Facilities deployed PC power management software across the campus network that manages the power states of PCs during periods of inactivity. Soon, a more up-to-date version of this software will be deployed over the campus’ inventory of approximately 5,000 PCs.
3. A Campus-Wide Lighting Replacement/Retrofit Program
In April 2011, we initiated the replacement or retrofit of over 35,000 lighting fixtures and the installation of 9,300 lighting sensors that automatically turn off the lights when the controlled space becomes unoccupied after a period of time. This $5.2 million project will be completed in April 2012 and will save the university more than $900,000 each year in energy costs.
4. Central Plant Chilled Water Generation Expansion
A few years ago, we expanded our central utility plant, increasing our chilled water capacity from 1,500 to 6,000 tons. Using central chilled water gains greatest efficiency, lowers maintenance costs, and eliminates the need for separate equipment at each building.
5. Creating More Energy Efficient Buildings: Old and New
Our newest buildings incorporate more energy efficient architectural, mechanical, and electrical systems into their design. For example the new LEED Gold Certified West Village Commons receives its chilled water for cooling from a chiller using magnetic field-supported bearings, which are more efficient than conventional chillers. As we have performed smaller renovation and equipment replacement projects in our existing buildings, we have included energy efficiency into our equipment selection process such as installing variable frequency drives (VFDs), which run equipment only at the speeds necessary, not at the higher constant speed seen with older equipment.
As you can see, we’ve been doing some very good things, but there is so much more to be done. Many cultural challenges to energy stewardship still remain. We still need to overcome the naysayers and the idea slayers and convert the “care-lessers” into caring.
Energy stewardship? It’s simply a matter of will. Please do your part to help!