The Changing Energy Landscape and its Effect on College Campuses in the Northeast A review of energy efficiency and sustainability Prepared by CHA Consulting
â€œColleges and universities already have a higher percentage of LEED-certified green space than any other sector, including government, retail and hospitality. While this is notable, colleges and universities have only just begun to scratch the surface of transforming their aging campuses.â€? â€“ U.S. Green Building Council1
Overview CHA is a highly diversified, multi-disciplined engineering and construction management firm providing a range of planning and design services. We have worked with a wide variety of public and private colleges and universities throughout the United States. Through our work in the higher education community, CHA has witnessed firsthand how energy consumption on campus is being addressed by leading colleges and universities. Schools look to CHA for expert advice on energy management, improving current infrastructure and implementing plans for new buildings. CHA developed this report to provide an overview of the state of energy programs on campuses, and how the higher education community can move toward energy efficiency to address not only the growing cost of energy, but also the growing demand by prospective students to attend schools with innovative plans for sustainability.
State of Energy Efficiency in Higher Education In recent years, energy efficiency has become a highly discussed topic on college and university campuses. Schools have made improving facilities a priority, and have even begun to promote their sustainability initiatives in recruitment efforts. Increased energy demand and an aging infrastructure has put a strain on large users, including college and university campuses. While a number of schools are proactively creating energy efficiency solutions, far too many have still not strategically planned to meet these challenges. Colleges and universities spend an average of $1.95 per ft2 on electricity and $0.15/ft2 on natural gas annually2, an increase of 77 percent in the last decade3, resulting in $105,000 in energy costs for a 50,000 square foot building. Colleges and universities are identifying new measures to not only increase energy efficiency on campus, but also to lower overall expenses. Even simple traditional measures, like automatic lights, can result in cost savings of $100,000 for every 1,000,000 kWh saved4. One successful new strategy that many in the higher education
community have utilized is retro-commissioning, the systematic process for identifying less than optimal performance in equipment, lighting and control systems, and making adjustments to improve efficiency. This simple but effective approach can result for a typical 50,000-ft2 university building in $17,000 or more in annual savings5.
Consumer Demand of Prospective Students Increasingly, colleges and universities are now seeing prospective students from the millennial generation consider factors beyond traditional school rankings when making enrollment decisions. Recent studies have shown factors like campus sustainability and green energy efforts are being given thoughtful consideration. A survey by the College of William and Mary of more than 1,700 students at a diverse group of campuses found that “current freshmen are two times more likely to choose their school based on sustainability concerns than the entering freshman class just three years ago” (13.5 percent vs. 6.5 percent)6. As noted in The Princeton Review “College Hopes & Worries Survey,” 62 percent of today’s college-bound students said having information about a school’s commitment to the environment influences their decision to apply to or attend the school7.
Sustainability Leaders in the Northeast A diverse list of hundreds of colleges and universities have made a commitment to energy and sustainability—and followed through. These early adopters provide ample proof of the cost-benefits of energy efficiency programs. These examples of success, with demonstrated results and savings, are readily available for schools that have not begun in earnest. Six hundred sixty-five leaders of the 4,500 colleges in the United States have signed the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC)8, which aims to develop a longrange plan to reduce and ultimately neutralize greenhouse gas emissions on campuses. Of the more than 900 schools located in the Northeast9, 185 have signed the pledge. If any further evidence of the impact of sustainability in higher education was needed, in 2013 The Princeton Review released its fourth annual “Guide to 322 Green Colleges,” profiling institutions of higher education that demonstrated a strong commitment to sustainability in their academic offerings, campus infrastructure, activities and career preparation. Only 116 of more than 900 schools from the Northeast were recognized10.
CHA wants to utilize its expertise to increase this number by partnering with schools and universities to improve their on-campus energy efficiency efforts.
Helping Colleges Make the Grade CHA has partnered with colleges and universities throughout the Northeast to help them become leaders in energy efficiency and sustainability efforts, with results that speak for themselves. The College Sustainability Report Card, evaluating 300 schools in the United States with the largest endowments, only ranks eight schools nationally with an “A” grade for sustainability efforts11, including CHA client Brown University. Forty-five schools received an “A-” grade, including CHA clients Cornell University, Dartmouth College, University of Rochester, University of Vermont and Williams College. Best Energy Efficiency Practices As a leading national engineering firm, CHA has seen firsthand how colleges and universities can make impressive gains in improving their energy efficiency. With a client list of successful “adopters,” CHA recommends the following:
• Strategically outline and begin implementing an
updated and achievable sustainable/energy master plan. This guide will provide steps to be taken and the “bottom line” benefits
• Create a campus energy manager position, or procure an energy manager for hire consultant. Some state programs, such as NYSERDA’s FlexTech program, co-fund consultant fees.
• Engage students, the local community, energy consultants and other stakeholders to identify partners.
• Keep informed of how other schools are implementing energy efficiency measures.
Figure 2: Energy consumption in U.S. educational facilities by end use Data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration shows that lighting, ventilation, and cooling account for 74 percent of electric use (A) and space heating dominates natural gas use at 77 percent (B).
Office Equipment 1% Lighting 31%
Ventilation 22% Cooling 8% Computers 8%
Other 6% Refrigeration 5% Space Heating 4%
Water Heating 3% 22%
B. Natural Gas
Cooling 2% Space Heating 77% Water Heating 14% Other 7%
Note: Sum may not total 100% due to rounding ÂŠE Source; data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration
CHA Case Studies
Cornell University Utilities Engineering Assessment, Combined Heat and Power Plant In 2009, Cornell University released a Climate Action Plan (CAP) with the goal of reducing carbon emissions to net zero by the year 2050 and achieving carbon neutrality. As a result of CAP, along with CHAâ€™s work on a utilities engineering assessment and the design and construction of a 15MW combined heat and power plant, campus greenhouse emissions have already been reduced by 32 percent.
Ithaca College Energy audits of 73 buildings on campus In September 2011, CHA was hired to conduct a Benchmarking and Operational Efficiency Study, a Detailed Energy Audit, a Retro-commissioning Study, and a Heating Evaluation, including Combined Heat and Power. The detailed energy assessments by CHA provided upgrade recommendations in support of the collegeâ€™s Energy Master Plan. The project included the installation of electric and natural gas submeters in almost all campus buildings.
University of Vermont Renewable energy feasibility study CHA performed a renewable energy feasibility study at all 347 on-campus buildings. The study identified 6MW worth of photovoltaic solar opportunities and nine solar-thermal projects. The study also investigated cogeneration, wind power, biomass, fuel cells and geothermal options. Photography Credit: Jared C. Benedict
University of Rochester Energy audits of 28 buildings on campus In Spring 2013, CHA was hired to conduct a comprehensive Benchmarking and Operational Efficiency assessment of 28 of the largest buildings on campus. The study involved benchmarking the buildingsâ€™ energy use and ranking them using EPAâ€™s Energy Star Portfolio Manager online database. In addition, buildings were audited to identify low-cost and no-cost energy savings opportunities as part of a comprehensive site survey. As a result, the university implemented several operational and maintenance changes that resulted in immediate savings.
SUNY Fredonia Benchmark audit of 24 buildings through a $168,000 NYSERDA grant In Spring 2013, SUNY Fredonia hired CHA to benchmark 24 of their buildings with EPA Portfolio Manager and to identify low-cost and no-cost operational and maintenance measures that can reduce energy consumption. NYSERDAâ€™s grant covers all costs incurred to have CHA perform benchmarking and on-site operational assessments of campus buildings containing over 50,000 square feet of space12. The CHA analysis represents the first building energy audit done on campus in the last dozen years.
Public Partnership: Federal & State Programs Many schools can cut energy consumption by nearly one-third with proper strategic planning and the expertise CHA brings. Included in these professional services is guiding schools to attract more resources for capital improvements by tapping various federal and state assistance programs. Political leaders, as well as federal and state government agencies, recognize how energy production and consumption continues to change in our society, and are implementing measures in the best interests of our future. Included in this effort are programs specifically aimed at assisting large energy users, including college campuses.
United States Department of Energy As the price of fossil fuel rises, the United States Department of Energy continues to invest heavily in clean energy, with renewable energy generation nearly doubling since 2008. The Department of Energy focuses on energy sustainability today, and in researching and educating the newest methods for energy sustainability.
United States Environmental Protection Agency The United States Environmental Protection Agency, forecasts a significant increase in the demand for energy resources over the next 25 years13: â€˘ Global demand for all energy sources is expected to grow by 57 percent â€˘ U.S. demand for all energy sources is expected to grow by 31 percent â€˘ New power generation equal to nearly 300 (1,000 MW) power plants will be needed to match electricity demand by 2030 In addition to encouraging measures for energy efficiency, government agencies are also serving as a reference point, providing valuable expert input. For example, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) maintains an ENERGY STAR webpage for higher education that serves as a valuable resource for colleges and universities developing an energy management strategy.
The White House The Obama Administration has signaled a continued policy and budget commitment that supports energy programs. The Oval Office has touted a variety of renewable energy efforts, including
the doubling of renewable energy generation in the United States from wind, solar, and geothermal sources since 2008. Since then, the U.S. Department of Interior has approved 29 onshore renewable energy projects and is committed to issuing permits for 10,000 megawatts of renewable power on public lands14. Concurrent to existing strong support from Washington, many governors and state legislatures have energy programs high on their priority lists.
State Energy Programs Individual states also provide a complex variety of funding programs that can help offset the cost of energy efficiency programs implementation in the higher education community. In the Northeast alone, there are hundreds of state initiatives, incentives and programs for colleges and universities to consider. Incentives are available for colleges and universities to replace aging equipment, that lower future energy expenses. Many states in the Northeast also feature programs to offset the costs for studies to benchmark and identify strategic plans to improve energy efficiency on campus. The following is a sample of programs that CHA recommends for colleges and universities in the Northeast15:
4 6 3 1 8 7
1. Connecticut Combined Heat and Power Pilot Loan 2.Maine Community Based Renewable Energy Production Incentive 3.Massachusetts The Accelerated Energy Program (AEP) 4.New Hampshire Pay for Performance Program 5.New Jersey Clean Energy Solutions Energy Efficiency Revolving Loan Fund 6.New York Energy Smart Construction Program 7.Pennsylvania High Performance Green School Planning Grants 8.Rhode Island Renewable Energy Development Fund Programs 9.Vermont Green Mountain Power: Solar GMP
Joining the Energy Leaders CHA is proud to have had the opportunity to work with many of the colleges and universities considered trendsetters and at the forefront of meeting the energy challenges faced in institutional settings. As the proven leader for energy efficiency at colleges and universities, CHA has performed more than 300 energy audits, which have identified more than $60 million in energy savings for our clients. There is a tremendous opportunity right now for colleges and universities to develop and implement plans that will reduce consumption and net millions of dollars in energy savings. Many schools that have stated these efforts as a priority have yet to move forward, and many others have yet to think about the benefits of being proactive in addressing energy planning. In addition to generating immediate and long-term savings and tapping existing federal and state funds available for energy programs, there is an opportunity to have a profound impact on the global climate. Lastly, a growing number of todayâ€™s millennial students are thinking about their prospective college choiceâ€™s commitment to the environment when deciding where to go to school. For more information, please contact Greg Corso at 518.453.8222 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, http://www.aashe.org/blog/how-do-campus-sustainability-initiatives-affect-college-admissions
American College & University Presidentsâ€™ Climate Commitment, http://www.presidentsclimatecommitment.org/
American College & University Presidentsâ€™ Climate Commitment, http://www.presidentsclimatecommitment.org/