Campus highlights energy efficiency efforts in light of city ranking

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    The Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program has ranked the Dallas-Fort Worth area fifth in the nation of cities with the highest number of energy efficient commercial buildings in 2008.

    Although no buildings on campus were classified as commercial buildings, the university strives to stay on the leading edge of energy efficiency, a physical plant official said.

    George Bates, physical plant manager of electrical systems, said the university has saved a lot of money over the past 10 years by keeping up with new developments in energy efficiency.

    “We spend over $6 million a year on electricity so it gets our attention,” Bates said. “We try to minimize cost whenever possible.”

    Bates said the university installed energy-efficient lighting in all buildings 10 years ago. More efficient chillers were installed around the same time, dropping from an 800 kilowatt per ton usage to 550 kilowatt per ton, Bates said.

    Top Ten

    Most efficient buildings (with annual energy cost savings in millions):

    1. Los Angeles – $87.2
    2. San Francisco – $83.8
    3. Houston – $70.6
    4. Washington, D.C. – $42.2
    5. Dallas-Fort Worth – $31.9
    6. Chicago – $42.4
    7. Denver – $32.9
    8. Minneapolis-St. Paul – $36.3
    9. Atlanta – $16.4
    10. Seattle – $16.3
    SOURCE: Environmental Protection Agency

    All new buildings and renovated buildings have also been equipped with energy-efficient windows and variable-frequency drives, Bates said. According to PlantServices.com, a variable-frequency drive can run motors that generate electricity at less than full speed when full power isn’t needed.

    Lauren Pitcher, communications specialist for Energy Star, said 126 buildings in the Metroplex earned the EPA’s Energy Star rating in 2008, saving more than $30 million in energy costs.

    Energy Star buildings typically use 35 percent less energy and emit 35 percent less greenhouse gases than average buildings, Pitcher said.

    Replacing old heating and
    cooling systems can save up to 30 percent in energy costs a year and replacing fluorescent lights with more energy efficient bulbs can save millions in kilowatt hours, Pitcher said.

    After the upcoming renovations of Milton Daniel Hall and Moncrief Hall, all current planned building renovations will be complete, Bates said.

    Scharbauer Hall, scheduled for completion in December, will meet the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating by the U.S. Green Building Council, a stringent rating system, Bates said.

    According to the Council’s Web site, LEED standards include such criteria as reducing water usage in a building, indoor chemical and pollutant source control and reuse or recycling of construction waste.