January 25, 2010
CONTACT: K.E. Schwab
SRU works to reduce electricity usage; save money
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - And you thought your electric bill was too high. Slippery Rock University has paid nearly $700,000 in electricity charges since July 1, and officials are looking for ways to cut costs.
"We are looking to help cut costs through occupancy sensors and a re-evaluation of lighting in addition to the numerous steps we have already taken," said Scott Albert, director of facilities and planning.
SRU Green Fund project funding will allow facilities and planning to install occupancy sensors and an electric meter in McKay Education Building, similar to those already installed in Spotts World Culture Building, Eisenberg Classroom Building and the new Art Sculpture Building.
The occupancy sensors, which will be installed in McKay and the Advanced Technology and Science Hall classrooms, electronically determine when people are in the room. When the room is vacant, the lights go out, resulting in energy savings.
Albert said the sensor installation project could take place over spring break.
SRU has already undertaken an extensive array of energy-saving projects, including retrofitting lighting fixtures in most campus buildings. Those savings are already being seen. The retrofit was coupled with a number of other energy-efficient technologies and green-building programs incorporated into recent construction projects that are also having an effect on costs.
The Slippery Rock University Foundation Inc., used green technologies in its construction of the new campus residence halls, including energy-efficient lighting and on-demand hallway lighting. The new halls are also metered to allow appropriate charge backs to auxiliary services. Meters will soon be added to the older residence halls on campus.
The next generation of electrical energy savings will come from behavioral changes, said Herbert Carlson, assistant vice president for construction design and management.
"These behavioral changes will include such things as manually turning off unnecessary lights and include turning off computers, printers and appliances when leaving for class, meetings or when leaving at the end of the day," Carlson said.
"We always remind people that some modern appliances and technologies continue to use power even though the item is turned off," Albert said.
"Technically, we look at energy usage on a BTU-per-square-foot basis," Albert said. "We have a goal of reducing our energy usage by 1.5 percent in the coming year."
"Our total consumption based on BTUs per gross square foot for the past fiscal year as 125,497; or looked at another way, about 11.26 per kilowatt hours per gross square foot. The average cost of our electricity is 5.25-cents per kilowatt - and the cost of electricity continues to go up from the supplier," Albert said. SRU lists a gross total square foot of in-use space of 2.414-million.
In looking at other energy savings plans and ideas, Albert said increasing inside temperatures by one degree in summer reportedly results in a 2 to 3 percent decrease in the electric bill. Lowering the inside heat temperature by one degree in winter, results in a 1 to 2 percent decrease in the bill.
He said the first round of review would be in classrooms and then steps may be taken for individual offices. "The actual savings will drive where we go," Albert said.
Other projects that will aid in energy conservation are the planned renovation of the current University Union, once the new University Union is built.
"When we undertook the energy-efficient lighting upgrade, we knew the new University Union was in the planning stages and the payback would not be sufficient to justify it at the time, so we delayed the plan in that building," Albert said.
The facilities and planning staff will also look at "right lighting" in some areas. That review could mean elimination of some lighting fixtures where it is determined there is too much light.
As for parking lot lighting, Albert said, "Lighting in remote or seldom used lots, even over breaks or between semesters, remain on to accommodate unusual and unpredictable schedules for those using various facilities near the lots. It is really a safety issue."
Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.