Energy Saving: The "ACTION" On Sustainability At Howard University

EDF Staff | August 19, 2011

By: Ehizogie Idugboe, 2011 EDF Climate Corps Sector Fellow at Howard University, MBA candidate at Howard University School of Business, Washington DC


As a student at Howard University, I was excited about spending my summer at my Alma Mater in a non-student capacity.  I will be working hand-in-hand with the University in implementing green principles and policies that supports its mission to “provide an educational experience of exceptional quality to students, while reducing the institution’s carbon footprint on the environment.”  My job helps to identify and analyze energy efficiency/investments opportunities that can reduce the university’s energy use and CO2 emission, while increasing cost savings.

 “Sustainability” initiatives at Howard University have improved drastically over the last two years. The College Sustainability Report Card grade has improved from an “F” in 2009 to a “C-” in 2011. While this is a significant change, it is definitely not good enough. Howard has been working relentlessly to reduce its energy use/carbon footprint by utilizing “green building” techniques to improve lighting and HVAC system in several buildings. A few examples of these energy efficient technology improvements include:

  • Installing heat recovery systems,
  • Installing lighting sensors in some offices and classrooms,
  • Switching the old vending machines to energy star approved machines, and
  • Using renewable energy by installing solar panels for heating domestic water in the gymnasium, including the swimming pool.

As part of its Green building initiative, the institution is currently renovating six buildings under a program named “Extreme Make-Over.” Designs and construction will meet or exceed LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) building standards, which is an internationally recognized green building certification system. Material that will be used in these buildings will not only be energy efficient, but will be sustainable as well. Upgrades will include improvements to mechanical, plumbing, and electrical systems in the buildings. Building envelop improvements include: the installation of energy efficient doors and windows along with the installation of a green roof, which will absorb rainwater, provide insulation, create a habitat for wide life, as well as to help lower urban air temperatures and combat the heat island effect.

I am happy to see that my Alma Mater has moved beyond the “talking sustainability stage” to a more active stage in trying to make the campus “greener.” The institution has been taking significant action to ensure that it achieves its sustainability goals by involving students, faculty, and staff in its recycling program and overall participation in the national completion called “Recycle-Mania.” Earth Day is another campus-wide activity intended to create awareness and appreciation for Earth’s natural environment, both on campus and throughout the entire community. This year’s celebration included establishing an organic garden on campus run by students.

I am extremely proud to have contributed to the cause this year. I am looking forward to seeing some of my recommendations included in the Extreme Make-Over project this year. I hope to see Howard University move their Green Report Card grade to an “A” and be included in the top sustainable institutions of higher education in the country, if not the world.

EDF Climate Corps Public Sector (CCPS) trains graduate students to identify energy efficiency savings in colleges, universities, local governments and houses of worship. The program focuses on partnerships with minority serving institutions and diverse communities. Apply as a CCPS fellow, read our blog posts and follow us on Twitter to get regular updates about this program.