KU launches program to improve energy efficiency to the tune of $2 million per year

Work will address antiquated systems, raise awareness

Work is under way that is expected to save nearly $2 million per year through improved energy efficiency.

KU has entered into a $25 million contract with Energy Solutions Professionals that will address aging heating, ventilation and air conditioning, reduce energy and water use and educate the campus community about responsible stewardship of resources. Physical improvements will be made in 56 campus buildings. Work has begun and is scheduled for completion in summer 2011.

“The bulk of the work will be done at Haworth and Malott halls and at Simons Biosciences Research Laboratories on west campus,” said Scott McVey, energy conservation and utilities manager.

The measures are expected to generate nearly $2 million in savings per year, mostly through improved efficiency. Energy Solutions Professionals will track and guarantee energy savings for 15 and a half years after completion. If the guaranteed savings are not realized, the company will pay KU the difference.

Work in Malott, Haworth and lab buildings will address antiquated fume hoods and air handling systems that are inefficient and install variable air volume controls on lab exhaust systems.

Other measures include:

• Expanding building automation control systems in 32 buildings. The systems will allow heating and cooling units to condition rooms in accordance with the number of occupants.

• Retrofitting light fixtures in 43 buildings with more efficient bulbs.

• Improving and replacing plumbing fixtures in 53 buildings to reduce water use.

• Installing conservation measures in the campus central steam system.

• Installing swimming pool covers in Robinson Health and Physical Education Center to retain water heat and reduce water evaporation.

• Placing occupancy sensors in campus buildings that can turn off lights when a room is unoccupied.

The KU Center for Sustainability and Energy Solutions Professionals will work together to implement an energy awareness training program on campus. Eric Hodge, a conservation specialist with Energy Solutions Professionals, will visit buildings on campus and perform assessments to determine how energy could be used more efficiently. Hodge said the assessments will examine lighting, heating, cooling and ventilation systems. They will also look at behavioral components, such as if lights are being turned off overnight, if unused rooms are being lit and if unused computers and equipment are running unnecessarily.

The awareness program is expected to generate $200,000 a year in savings.

Jeff Severin, KU Center for Sustainability director, said his office will work with the network of sustainability ambassadors to reach out to the campus community about improving efficiency.

“We’re hoping they can be office champions of campus sustainability,” Severin said of the ambassadors. “There’s a good level of awareness out there already, and we want to build on that.”

For more information, visit the Center for Sustainability's site or Energy Solutions Professionals' site.

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Amanda Schwegler, assistant director, Center for Service Learning
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