Going Green: $8.5 Mil Energy Conservation Effort Underway
Since 2005, school officials say UMW has spent $8.5 million on renovations to reduce energy consumption, cut greenhouse gas emissions, and to make the campus “green” in other ways.
The University of Mary Washington joined with NORESCO, an energy consultant company in 2005 and signed an energy performance contract. This contract was initiated and supported by Acting President, Richard Hurley.
According to Richard Pearce, Associate VP for Business and Finance,
“The executive management is firmly behind all responsible conservation measures.”
With the goal of reducing energy consumptions and green house gas emissions, UMW began retrofitting buildings throughout campus with energy efficient technology.
NORESCO insulated exposed steam and hot water piping to prevent loss of heat and steam, and increase the boiler efficiency. Also, new low-flow showerheads, toilets, and faucets, were replaced in all buildings. Energy efficient lights were also installed and the money included the Seacobeck Dining hall renovations.
This February, the construction projects involved in the performance contract with NORESCO were completed.
In a presentation to the Board of Visitors on September 14th, representatives from the NORESCO Company stated, “These changes will bring about a $430,000 guaranteed annual savings.”
Now, in the second stage of long-term energy conservation program, officials say it’s the students’ turn to act.
UMW has launched a drive to get students to cut energy use on campus in a variety of ways, including turning off their computers, printers, and speakers after use, taking shorter five-minute “power showers,” and cutting off fans and air conditioners when no one’s in a room.
These specific behaviors were chosen after a survey of on-campus students, given by NORESCO in Spring 2007 found that half neglected to follow any of the conservation measures on a regular basis.
Residence Life has been working with NORESCO in order to spread the word about energy conservation habits.
This year, during RA orientation and training in August, R.As attended a seminar about the NORESCO program and their responsibilities relating to the cause. At this session, they were asked to distribute and post reminders and tips about conserving energy for their residents.
Chris Porter, Director of Residence Life recognizes that it is ultimately up to each individual RA, to decide how and if they will participate in the program and hand out the material.
Sophomore, Willard hall resident, Daniel Masher who attended a seminar about the NORESCO program, believes this program will be a success.
Yet, Masher states, “Some RAS have been committed in spreading this program.”
St. Mary’s College in Maryland is also working with NORESCO and trying to change student behaviors throughout their campus. So far, the outcome of their “behavior changing” undertaking has been bleak.
Meredith Epstein, Co-President of the Students for Environmental Action Coalition at St. Mary’s College commented,
“Lifestyle changes come slowly, in some cases it has been greatly successful but in many not at all. A lot of it has had to do with the RAs trained not following through with their residents.”
However, here at UMW, the Ecology club in conjunction with Residence Life, is working diligently to remind students about their commitment to the earth.
Starting the week of November 6th the Ecology Club will be holding a light bulb exchange program.
During these times, students will be able to exchange one or more incandescent light bulbs for the new compact florescent bulbs.
According to flyers from Dr. Scott Finlinson, the Manager of Organizational Efficiency from the NORESCO Company,
“With 2,800 students living at UMW it costs $21,168/year using Incandescent bulbs. But with the new 23 Watt Compact Fluorescent Bulb it will cost $4,872/year.”
Lauren Birney, and Elisa Walker, Ecology club co-presidents are encouraging everyone to come out and exchange their light bulbs.
“It is a great opportunity for students to take an initiative and make a simple change.” says Birney.
The flyer provided by Finlinson states, “If every residential student at University of Mary Washington changed one 100 Watt incandescent bulb to a 23 Watt Compact Fluorescent (CF) bulb the school could save $16,296.00.“
Richard Pearce realizes that the light bulb exchange program will not generate cash, but believes,
“Cost increases will be slowed in future years because of the utility expense savings.”