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Thursday, Oct 23, 2014

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Chillicothe campus energy conservation paying dividends


OU-C’s ability to conserve energy is garnering recognition for the campus. The Chillicothe Campus recently earned a certificate of recognition from American Electric Power (AEP) for its commitment to energy efficiency and savings incentives among businesses in 2012. 

According to AEP, the campus is saving 196,349 kilowatt hours of electricity annually, which translates to 164.9 tons of carbon dioxide, the amount that would be generated by 165 single-family homes. This savings is equivalent to taking 31 cars off of the road or the growth of 3,843 tree seedlings for 10 years.

The campus has achieved this success through a practical approach to energy efficiency and conservation that includes a series of initiatives that put its commitment to energy conservation into action.

“Much of savings can be attributed to smarter, more efficient energy usage,” Director of Facilities Management Dave Scott said. “The campus has taken several common-sense steps over the past few years that have resulted in more efficient use of energy and, consequently, more savings.”

Among the initiatives are practical measures such the use of automated building control systems that shut off heating and cooling systems between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. when campus buildings are generally unoccupied. The temperatures in the buildings at night are offset by 4 degrees. For example, with 72 degrees as a target temperature during business hours, buildings are maintained at 68 degrees during off-hours in the winter and at 76 degrees in the summer.

Also, a variable frequency drive system has been installed, which allows equipment to be ramped up gradually instead of all at once, thereby using less amperage and saving energy.

These green initiatives are reflected in the green currency of money and the campus’ fiscal bottom line. For example, OU-C spent $1.1 million in maintenance and operations in fiscal year 2012 (which ended June 30, 2012). Through March 2013, the campus had spent $587,000 on operations during that nine-month fiscal period. This puts OU-C on pace for savings of $317,000, or 29 percent over the previous fiscal year. The campus has also earned $5,700 in rebates from AEP, resulting in additional savings.

The Chillicothe Campus also saved $3,800 in gas costs over a recent six-month period.

“This is real money and allows the campus to invest in its strategic priorities and other areas of campus rather than everyday operational expenses such as heating and cooling,” Scott said.

Additionally, the campus has partnered with First Capital Enterprises on recycling efforts that are targeted at reducing waste. This effort resulted in a total collection of 84.15 tons of recyclable materials and trash being collected over six months, from January through June of 2012. The campus also extends the recycling effort to the community through the placement of bins in the parking lot.

Beyond the accolades and the numbers, being good stewards of its resources is the right thing to do. 

“The main thing is, as a university campus, we should be a community leader in conservation efforts. It supports our mission of serving our region and setting a tone for our students to hopefully follow,” Scott said.