Progress in Energy Efficiency Projects Pays Off

Joe Viterna, with University Facilities & Services, continually works to obtain NYSERDA and other rebates for the University's energy saving projects.

In 2010, the University of Rochester River Campus, in a joint effort with Central Utilities, set off on a mission to both measure and reduce overall energy consumption throughout the University. Through the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Energy Star Program, the UR has been able to mark its energy-savings success level against peer institutions, and against its own energy record. The Energy Star program, a joint effort between the EPA and the US Dept. of Energy, is one built on the concept of convincing people that, if for no other reason, they should be more environmentally conscious because it can save them a lot of money!   Their efforts appear to be proven. In fact through ENERGY STAR, Americans have saved enough energy to avoid greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those resulting from 33 million cars on the road in this past year alone. And as an added benefit, they’ve saved nearly $18 billion in their utility bills during that same time frame.

And it appears to be working for UR as well! As proof of its continual commitment to reducing our carbon footprint, the University has recently been awarded Energy Star certification for  Anderson Tower and Wilder Tower, which are featured on the Energy Star website. The University is also involved in the New York State Energy Research and Development (NYSERDA) program; through their Energy Efficient Equipment Rebate Program, UR has been awarded rebates totaling about $25,000, money which then went directly into funding the purchase of new, more energy-efficient equipment. For example, the University has replaced many older water pumps and air conditioning fans with variable-speed drives (VSD’s), the energy use matches the needed consumption of a particular building’s heating and cooling requirements, making them highly efficient. VSD’s have been installed in residential as well as academic buildings. 

NESERDA also offers a New Construction Program, which offers assistance when “incorporating energy-efficient measures into the design, construction, and operation of new and substantially renovated buildings.” The goal of this program is to reduce energy use, and therefore usage cost, by reducing the demand of a building’s electric system. At UR, participation in this program is a collaborative effort between our operations and maintenance groups and the Campus Planning, Design and Construction Maintenance Department. At the beginning of every University building project, project design teams meet to identify ways to conserve energy in the new facility. “It’s about doing the right thing the first time”, says Facilities Program Manager Joe Viterna of the decision to implement these new construction changes.

 And our efforts are being rewarded. In 2010-2011, the Eastman School of Music received a $50,000 grant from the RG&E Economic Development Program for a renovation project. The new UR Data Center, which exceeded NYS Energy Code minimum by over 30%, was granted $176,000 and a rarely awarded High Performance Building Plaque from the NYSERDA program. Also from the NYSERDA program, UR received $58,000 for the ESM renovation project, and $14,400 for the Wilson Commons Dining renovation.  These programs make a huge difference in the Ecological footprint of the University of Rochester, and are a big step in UR’s journey to become green.

One Reply to “Progress in Energy Efficiency Projects Pays Off”

  1. That is really good work and demonstrates what is achievable for other universities – hopefully this has gained a lot of press attention so people/companies feel comfortable looking at enery efficiency and it doesn’t feel like it something that is unachievable.

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