Program awards Main and Undergraduate libraries for energy conservation

The Energy Conservation Incentive Program award ceremony at the Main Library kicked off the first of seven ceremonies that will celebrate the eight different buildings that are being awarded for their sustainability efforts.

Facilities and Services created the program to measure the energy usage of the buildings across campus over a fiscal year and compare them to the previous year. The eight buildings that save the most energy receive a plaque and a financial reward to be used for building renovations.

For the 2013 fiscal year, the Main Library won third place in the Energy Advancement category. Buildings in this category initially received central funding from conservation projects to help save energy. With this funding, the Main Library managed a 43 percent energy reduction, which amounts to about $47,000 in energy savings, said Allan Stratman, executive director of Facilities and Services.

The Undergraduate Library won first place in the Occupant Action category. The buildings in this category were not centrally funded, but relied only on the occupants of the building to save as much energy as possible. This includes turning off lights and computers when not in use and getting rid of unnecessary appliances, said Morgan Johnston, sustainability coordinator for Facilities and Services. The Undergraduate Library reduced energy by 35 percent.

John Wilkin, dean of libraries, accepted the two plaques for the Main Library and Undergraduate Library at the ceremony. He attributed the libraries’ energy savings to the changing habits of faculty and staff.

“The money will help us with the doors,” Wilkin said. The old doors that let in draft have been a source of energy loss, he said. The Main Library has already started replacing old windows with double-pane, energy efficient versions.

Wilkin said that plans for the future also include changing old lights to energy-efficient LED lights and replacing parts of the roof with HVAC systems.

Putting their message of sustainability into practice, the award facilitators had all attendees of the ceremony sign a pledge upon entrance to become more sustainable in some fashion. Participants wrote statements regarding energy saving actions they can take, such as riding bikes or buses more often, shutting down computers or recycling more.

The pledges are geared toward becoming more sustainable, but especially encouraging others to become more sustainable, Johnston said.

“The University and F-and-S has embarked on some different programs to drive energy conservation,” said Stratman.

These have included a process called retrocommissioning, where facilities’ experts inspect buildings for ways to improve energy conservation.

“It’s been a very successful program for us,” Stratman said. “Across all the facilities that have gone through retrocommissioning, we average about 27 percent energy savings after we’ve gone through a building. That equates to about $17 million.”

Facilities and Services has also set goals to do energy audits and major upgrades on 18 different buildings in the next five years.

But Stratman said that the Energy Conservation Incentive Program is transformational because it involves not just Facilities and Services, but the campus at large.

“The people who did all the effort get the rewards of that effort invested back into their facility,” Stratman said. “So it’s a win-win.”

Zila can be reached at [email protected]