“Shut the window – we’re not heating the outside. Put a sweater on if you’re cold. Turn off the lights. Do you think I’m made of money?” Sound familiar? Families work together to reduce their utility bills. Given the current state budget impasse and reduced funding for colleges, it is also vitally important for our university family to work on conserving energy and reducing the amount of money spent on utilities.
The Energy Conservation Incentive Program (ECIP) encourages and incentivizes energy conservation through personal behavior changes and through structural modifications of facilities. Individual building energy consumption is tracked through the Energy Billing System (EBS). Energy conservation is then measured as the percentage difference of energy usage between the current fiscal year and the previous fiscal year after adjusting for heating degree days.
At the end of each fiscal year, the ECIP selects eight winning facilities that post the largest reduction in energy usage in two categories (Occupant Action and Energy Advancement) and then rewards those facilities with money to be used for facility upgrades. Past winners have installed bike racks, new water fountains, and renovated doors and windows. The Occupant Action category reflects building occupant behavioral changes (turning off lights and computers when not in use, closing windows, scheduling, and reporting heating/cooling problems to Facilities & Services). With 56,000 people on the Urbana campus, there’s a lot of opportunity to conserve energy on a daily basis. Small steps can add up to significant results!
The Energy Advancement category primarily reflects campus projects such as retrocommissioning work, a controls upgrade project, and/or lighting upgrades that aid in lowering energy usage. Work completed by the Retrocommissioning team in conjunction with the Lincoln Hall renovation allowed the university to avoid over $250,000 in utility costs per year in this building alone, a roughly 50% reduction in utility costs.
Midway through FY16, Ceramics Kiln House is leading in the Energy Advancement category with an impressive 34% drop in energy usage from FY15. How? Retrocommissioning installed occupancy sensors to automatically turn on/off lights and air handling/air conditioning units. Controls were added to fume hoods allowing them to be turned off when not in operation. The department took the lead in implementing improved lab procedures and moved chemicals from fume hoods to chemical storage cabinets that require a lower exhaust rate.
Talbot Laboratory, Transportation Building, Davenport Hall (2015 ECIP winner), Temple Hoyne Buell Hall, Rehabilitation Education Center, Institute Gov. & Public Affairs Building, Architecture Building, and the Speech and Hearing Clinic are all showing significant energy reductions for the first 6 months of FY16. These buildings are the current leaders in the FY16 ECIP competition.
Conserving energy is everyone’s responsibility. Talk to your facilities liaison about energy conservation projects for your facility. Turn off lights and close windows in empty rooms. Power down computers when you leave. Shut the sash or turn off fume hood exhaust fans when possible. These actions don’t take much time but will have a big impact on our utility cost bottom line. Remember, it’s never too late to make a difference. Energy conservation tips we can all use.