UB Energy-Conservation Projects Record Highest Savings Among Campuses

Release Date: March 5, 1998

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The University at Buffalo saves $9 million per year as a result of its creative strategies for energy conservation, according to a report released today (March 5, 1998) by the National Wildlife Federation.

Of the 23 case studies at 15 institutions of higher education outlined in the report, "Green Investment, Green Return: How Practical Conservation Projects Save Millions on America's Campuses," UB's energy-saving projects demonstrate the highest annual revenues and savings.

The report focuses on how conservation projects at colleges and universities are proving that decisions that are good for the environment also can be good for the bottom line.

"Environmental concern is not an afterthought at UB," said Robert J. Wagner, UB senior vice president. "We are genuinely committed to environmental stewardship, leadership and excellence, and that commitment has produced extraordinary cost savings."

The most critical component of UB's strategy is a $17 million energy-management project, launched in 1994 through a partnership with CES/Way International, a Houston-based energy service company, and the local electric utility, Niagara Mohawk Power Corp.

Wagner pointed out that in sharp contrast to less expensive, quick-fix projects, this package of energy-saving measures, which has affected virtually every one of the 45 buildings on UB's North Campus in Amherst, took a comprehensive approach.

It has resulted in estimated annual savings of $3 million, or about a 15 percent reduction in the $19 million UB previously spent each year on energy, and about as much energy savings as the university had achieved over the previous 10 years through important, but piecemeal efforts.

"Given that state resources will remain tight, this project gave us an opportunity to reallocate on-campus money that would otherwise be required to pay our utility bills," Wagner said. "It's a total win-win."

The payback period for the project was only 3.76 years.

Financial savings aren't the project's only benefit. It reduces annual UB energy-related emissions of carbon dioxide by more than 64 million pounds, sulfur dioxide by 140,000 pounds and nitrous oxide by 214,000 pounds.

• A new campus energy policy in the emerging deregulated market for electric power that calls for innovative purchasing contracts that buy power from environmentally clean sources, incorporates energy-conservation services and avoids rate structures that might compromise UB's energy-conservation efforts.

• A "green computing" awareness campaign aimed at reducing by nearly half the $400,000 the university spends each year to power computers, many of which are turned on -- but not in use -- for most of the day.

• The establishment of temperature settings for university buildings (68 degrees Fahrenheit in winter and 76 degrees in summer). UB's experience has shown that a single degree of heating or cooling during one year can amount to savings of $100,000 or more.

Wagner added that UB's experience saving money through environmental reforms has generated interest in the Western New York community.

After undergraduate students in an environmental studies class conducted an audit of the ways that the university's two campuses affect the environment, the Buffalo Common Council requested that students conduct a similar study of Buffalo City Hall.

That audit, completed last year, identified $10,000 in potential cost savings through more aggressive recycling and $12,000 in savings through the purchase of recycled paper.

This semester, UB students have teamed up with students at Buffalo Hutch Tech High School to conduct an environmental audit at the school.

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Ellen Goldbaum
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