As part of a continued effort to reduce its carbon footprint and operate more cost efficiently, the University of North Texas will embark on a three-year campus-wide energy savings project this fall.
The university has partnered with Schneider Electric to further improve many of the university's current energy and water systems. UNT previously worked with Schneider on a 10-year energy savings project that began in 1997, and has allowed the university to save $1.2 million a year in energy costs. The new project will increase that savings to an estimated $3.2 million a year, and guarantee at least $42 million in savings over the next 20 years.
"As UNT gets bigger and better, we are taking care to minimize the environmental impacts of our growth and to keep leading the way as a campus community that embraces sustainability," said UNT President V. Lane Rawlins. "The savings generated by these improvements should enable us to grow without exponential increases in energy usage."
The project, aimed at improving energy efficiency, operations, reliability and comfort across campus, will include the replacement of the existing chilled water distribution system. The underground chilled water loop will be replaced and expanded to double its original capacity and will provide more efficient cooling for 29 buildings. Twenty-two smaller chillers will be removed and the three existing central plant chillers will be replaced with larger capacity and more energy efficient models to serve the expanded number of buildings. Ninety-three university buildings also will be renovated to include lighting controlled through motion sensors, installation of water conserving fixtures, electrical power upgrades and various HVAC upgrades.
Once completed, the project will provide energy savings equivalent to removing 206,939 tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, which is comparable to removing 41,387 cars from the roads or planting 56,287 acres of trees.
Representatives from Schneider Electric currently are on campus completing surveys and other preliminary projects. Physical construction of the chilled water loop and work inside the buildings is slated to begin in early November.
As part of the new energy savings project, UNT and Schneider Electric will partner in the creation of a campus energy tracking effort, which will be accomplished through extensive sub-metering of buildings on campus. The data will be available in real-time via the Internet, which will allow the university to be proactive in managing energy usage. Schneider Electric also will provide on-site support, training and expertise throughout the project to ensure facilities operate at maximum efficiency while effectively meeting the needs of the UNT community.
"UNT is committed to energy efficiency and providing our students, faculty and staff with a higher level of comfort on campus," said Charles Jackson, UNT's acting senior associate vice president for administration. "Through this contract, Schneider Electric brings a broad portfolio of energy management products to help meet our sustainability goals."
In 2008, UNT became Texas' first large public university to sign the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment, pledging to adhere to more stringent environmental standards and promising to achieve at least LEED Silver certification on new buildings. The new Life Sciences Building is expected to achieve LEED Gold certification, along with the Business Leadership Building and new football stadium.
With green as one of its official colors, the university in 2008 launched a campuswide environmental awareness campaign titled "We Mean Green." Last year, the student body reinforced that commitment by overwhelmingly supporting the adoption of "the green fee," a $5 student fee collected each fall and spring semester and aimed at funding green initiatives.