UNCG is growing. An expanding student body and more building space naturally cause an increase in the use of natural gas, electricity and water, according to UNCG energy analyst Nihal Al Raees. There’s also the weather—harsher winters and summers make it more energy intensive to control the indoor climate.
But a strategic energy plan is at work, to ensure that the university’s total energy and water consumption not only meet but surpass state-mandated reductions. The UNCG Facilities Energy Conservation Team has been evaluating and implementing technologies and strategies to reduce fossil fuel consumption wherever possible, reducing the Energy Use Intensity number, which is the energy per square foot, per year. This year’s energy use goal is to reduce the campus EUI by one percent.
According to UNCG’s Strategic Energy Plan report for 2015-16, through the implementation of the UNC system’s first performance contract, installation of several new technologies, improvements to the steam and chilled water infrastructures, and education and outreach efforts, energy and water consumption have decreased significantly at UNCG since 2003. In 2015-16, the Energy Use Intensity number was the lowest ever recorded at UNCG and water consumption had been reduced dramatically, far surpassing the 20 percent water-saving goal established by the state.
Moving toward sustainable energy resources is a future goal, with a plan for UNCG to become a model of campus energy use. Implementation of the UNCG Climate Action Plan to reduce energy consumption and eliminate greenhouse gas emissions began in the fall of 2013. These and all other efforts keep UNCG moving toward the 2050 carbon neutrality directive of The University of North Carolina Policy of Sustainability, in which all North Carolina system branches are committed to becoming carbon neutral as soon as practical and by 2050 at the latest.
How can you help?
Students, faculty and staff are requested to help conserve energy at UNCG, with small actions that can have big results. These actions can be as simple as turning off any electronics and lights when they are not in use, using CFL or LED light bulbs and using natural light whenever possible. Setting computers to hibernate when they’re not in use, shutting them down before leaving for the day, and not leaving them plugged in overnight, can make a big difference in how much energy each computer uses. Together, Spartans can make a difference in reducing energy costs and the university’s impact on the environment.
The Energy Conservation Pledge is available online for those who will promise to take small steps to reduce unnecessary energy use. Sign the energy conservation pledge here.
See tips on saving energy here and try these steps immediately:
· Turn off lights when leaving any unoccupied room.
· Unplug electronics when not in use, or use a smart power strip.
· Put computer on “sleep” or “hibernate” when not in use for short periods, and shut them down when they are not going to be used for more than two hours.
· Take the stairs instead of an elevator whenever possible.
· Do not open windows during cold weather and report uncomfortable temperatures to Facilities Operations by phone at 334-5684 or email@example.com
· If working in a lab, lower the sash on the fume hood when not in use.
Information and some copy drawn from UNCG’s Strategic Energy Plan report for 2015-16, with the assistance of UNCG energy analyst Nihal Al Raees.
By Susan Kirby-Smith