U of L hires company to help it use less energy - WDRB 41 Louisville News

U of L hires company to help it use less energy

Gasoline prices aren't the only energy source on the rise.  Electricity and natural gas rates are also going up, and one big user is out to do something about it.

U of L is taking a two-pronged approach:  hiring a national company to help it use less energy, and working to get students and staff to help.

Provost Shirley Willihnganz explains, "The university energy budget is almost $14 million per year."  U of L has tried to cut that cost on its own.  But Siemens Building Technologies is making an offer it can't refuse.

Michael Azzara of Siemens says, "The entire project, $33 million in facility improvement, will be funded, not by taxpayer dollars....It will be financed based on the energy savings the upgrades and retrofits will provide."

Siemens plans to cut U of L's utility bill by at least $4 million a year by installing efficient heating, cooling, and lighting systems.  The energy savings will be used to pay for the improvements.

Putting energy-saving equipment and technology in buildings may be the easy part.  A U of L professor says the University can save millions more if students and staff are more mindful of the energy they use.

U of L Professor Russ Barnett explains, "We gave them light meters to measure how much light do we have?  Some offices are so well lit, you'd have to wear sunglasses to work in them."

This summer, he sent a group of students out to survey U of L energy consumption.  Besides overlit buildings, the students found electric heaters in use even in the summer because some buildings are over-air conditioned.

Computers are left on to burn energy 24 hours a day, and for every three employees there's a small refrigerator running.  Estimates say 8%-15% of energy costs could be saved just by changing behavior.

U of L leaders say using less energy doesn't just save money, it also does the environment a lot of good.

So employees and students are going to be pressured to help out.  U of L is also creating the Council on Sustainability to coordinate efforts to "go green."

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