Feature Stories

Energy wise

In keeping with its commitment to sustainability, UGA has reduced annual energy consumption by more than 20 percent since 2007, saving $5 million per year as a result. The reduction is the result of several measures, including infrastructure repairs and investments, replacement of the old coal-fired boiler, and individual efforts to conserve.

"We've broken the 20 percent mark thanks to the efforts, large and small, of everybody on campus: faculty, staff and students," said David Spradley, director of energy services in the Facilities Management Division.

Individual energy-saving habits, like turning off the light in a residence hall room or shutting down a computer overnight, have a multiplier effect when practiced by the tens of thousands of people on campus, according to Spradley.

The Conserve Georgia initiative, introduced in 2008, committed state agencies to reduce energy usage 15 percent by 2020 over 2007 energy-use levels. UGA met that goal in 2014, six years early, and campus progress is continuing.

By the end of fiscal year 2016, the university achieved a 20.24 percent reduction in energy consumption, as measured by British Thermal Unit (Btu) per square foot. Btu is the standard unit of measurement for energy consumption. The costs saved are reinvested in more energy conservation efforts.

Michael Wilder of the Facilities Management Division explains the operation of the new electrode steam boiler that replaced the university’s coal burning operation. (Dorothy Kozlowski/UGA)Michael Wilder of the Facilities Management Division explains the operation of the new electrode steam boiler that replaced the university’s coal-fired boiler operation in 2015. (Dorothy Kozlowski/UGA)

"We have already surpassed the initial goal of 20 percent and are now closing in on the UGA Strategic Plan's goal of 25 percent by 2020," said Spradley. "We feel like we're going to meet that mark, and then we'll stretch ourselves to go further in the decades after that."

In addition to energy savings resulting from the campus community, the Facilities Management Division continues to make key energy conservation investments.  Replacing the 50-year-old coal-fired boiler with a new electrode boiler in 2015 resulted in an estimated 3 percent reduction in energy use as well as a significant reduction in emissions of sulfur dioxide and particulate matter.  Three district energy plants are being constructed and expanded to efficiently cool campus buildings, including District Energy Plant (DEP) #1 located across from Bolton Dining Commons, DEP #2 adjacent to UGA's Central Steam Plant and the planned DEP #3 on Riverbend Road for late 2017. To date, more than 4,000 LED lighting fixtures have been installed across campus, and many more are planned over the next five years.  More than 1.5 miles of leaking steam lines and over 100 steam pits have been repaired and insulated. 

The Office of University Architects also is constructing buildings that are increasingly energy-efficient. Since 2007, the university has added more than 2 million square feet in building space-including the Health Sciences Campus-an amount comparable to adding five Ramsey Student Centers to the university. New facilities include the recently opened Science Learning Center, Correll Hall, the special collections libraries, Pharmacy South and the Veterinary Medical Center, all of which are now contributing to the university's overall reduction in the rate of energy consumption.

Published Sunday,