The University of Georgia Energy Scoop

November 9, 2009 at 3:56 pm Leave a comment

So, where is UGA now as far as renewable energy goes?  In an hour long interview with our very own Ken Crowe, Director of Energy Services, Stanley Dieleman, a Southern Energy Network Efficiency Fellow, and Garrett Brewer, a UGA Graduate student with energy policy experience, were all able to get several ideas, policies, and future initiatives on paper. The main point of this meeting was to collect information and cold hard facts about our energy use. The information will be used to educate many new students who don’t have a clue as to what is being done on campus, and show them what we are doing, as a university, to fulfill our commitment to excellence here at UGA.

UGA_Northwest Corner_18x24

New centralized cooling plant for northwest precinct of UGA campus

So lets start with the big question, which seems to be on most people’s minds. How much is The University of Georgia actually spending on energy? Well, according to Crowe, somewhere in the ballpark of $28 million per year. Sound huge? The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill generates a bill of around $83 million per year. With this being said, it may sound like UGA is already leading the way in energy efficiency, but what I failed to mention before is that none of UGA’s energy comes from renewable sources. The University of North Carolina gets almost 25 percent from renewable sources. With a price tag of 3.4 additional cents per kilowatt-hour for renewable energy, the University of Georgia just cannot afford it. Instead, says Crowe, the University plans to invest money in its own renewable energy sources, such as photovoltaic panels, which could be easily applied onto many university facility roofs. UGA has not fully committed to this yet, but plans are being made.

The big project this year, and into 2010, is the construction of a brand new centralized cooling plant for the new northwest precinct of campus. The plant will centralize the cooling process, leading to a huge reduction in energy usage. According to Crowe, the more efficient coolant units, in addition to the plant’s centralized location, will reduce UGA’s energy use by as much as 25 percent for the buildings served by the plant.

Besides implementing these projects, UGA and the physical plant will continue urging the university to reduce energy by passing numerous policies focusing on basic student and faculty lifestyles. This includes simple things, such as turning off lights, to more extensive measures such as not using certain steam facilities in the summer due to a decrease of facility usage. Campus energy use has decreased 5% over its level three years ago and is well on its way to achieving the Governor’s Energy Challenge. This means reducing energy use, per square foot of building space, to 15% by the year 2020.

I will add one last thought that has been brought up many times by students and faculty interested in our energy future. Will UGA hire a head figure to tackle our energy issues and establish new policies and initiatives? This figure would be commonly known as a Director of Sustainability. When asked what UGA plans to do as far as establishing an Office of Sustainability on campus, Crowe replies that President Adams will probably reveal his plans in January as he addresses the recommendations of the Sustainability Working Group’s report.  This group has compiled a catalog of existing sustainable programs and activities on campus and has recommended actions to further the practice of sustainability on campus.

The University of Georgia is starting to make headway with its energy conservation and policy, but it still lags behind many schools, which have invested much more into sustainability. Hopefully with new economic times and more funds to work with, UGA will finally make energy efficiency a priority.

Stanley Dieleman, Southern Energy Network Efficiency Fellow

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Entry filed under: campus campaigns, georgia, southern energy network.

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