Olivia Moreno spent her summer as an EDF Climate Corps fellow at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), where she is a master’s student. UTEP is the second-oldest school in the University of Texas System and has 22,000 students. Last year, UTEP had a 5.2% hike in enrollment, and three major facilities and parking garages were under construction. To address the university’s concerns about increasing energy costs, Moreno worked with the Facilities Services Department to find energy efficiency solutions.
Moreno inspected the university’s library, the Don Haskin’s Center and Sun Bowl Parking Garage, and she found that upgrades to lighting systems could pay off in operational costs over a short time period. Replacing the high-energy light bulbs to lower wattage devices could save over 550,000 kWh per year and reduce annual energy costs by about $36,000. Moreno conducted baseline analysis and ran experiments involving pre-cooling/heating buildings on the off-peak and “bottling-up” the buildings during peak hours. She determined that minor programming changes in the building automation system could reduce the total kWh load by 5-10% each day.
By implementing Moreno’s projects, the university could save about $360,000 annually and avoid 435 metric tons of CO2 emissions. Lighting projects have a pay-off period of five years, and the HVAC projects have a pay-off period of one to two years.