Going Green at Southern University

EDF Climate Corps fellow | October 24, 2012

Fellow: Affuembey Enow Affuembey, 2012 EDF Climate Corps fellow at Southern University and A&M College, MBA candidate at Southern University and A&M College, College of Business

Organization: Southern University and A&M College

Opportunity: 8 buildings and over $270,000 in energy and water savings

Summary: As a student of Southern University, I’ve taken many walks around campus and seen that the school is "going green." But this summer, my view was completely different – I was on campus as an employee of the Office of Facility Services and Architectural Planning, not as a student. My job was to help the school "green" itself even more.

As a student of Southern University, I know the campus has already, to some extent, "gone green." On most light switches, stickers ask occupants leaving the room to save energy by turning off the lights. In one building, light fixtures have been changed, and occupancy sensors have been installed.

This summer, however, my view was completely different - I wasn’t on campus as a student, but as an employee of the Office of Facility Services and Architectural Planning. My job was to identify and develop energy efficiency opportunities to help the university "go green" even more.

I took a close look at eight buildings, responding to questions about what I was doing along the way. My answer – seeking ways reduce utility expenses – was usually well received. The community was open to finding ways of doing more with less.

I determined that the best way to do "more with less" was to incorporate current initiatives into a strategic sustainability and energy efficiency plan. This could enable the school to take existing projects, such as stickers on light switches, LED lights and occupancy sensors, to scale. After considering the performance of several potential projects in criteria such as NPV, hurdle and payback period, I proposed six projects.

1. Install lighting timers

The lights in five buildings remain on 24 hours a day, even in rooms sufficiently lit by daylight. Timing controls would cut the number of operating hours by at least half.

2. Consolidate printers

In two buildings, the printer-to-office ratio is one-to-one. I’m proposing a one-to-ten ratio, greatly reducing electricity and paper consumption.

3. Install lighting occupancy sensors

In many classrooms and lecture halls, the lights remain on from the time the first staff arrive in the morning to the time custodians finish cleaning at night, even though these rooms are only occupied, by my estimate, 30 percent of the time. Installing occupancy sensors could save enormous amounts of electricity.

4. Install LED exit signs

In three buildings, 40 exit signs run on incandescent lights. I recommended that they be replaced with LED signs.

5. Install vending misers

Vending misers regulate the refrigeration equipment in vending machines, shutting off the compressor during periods of low use. This minimizes the hours of operation, and thus electricity used, while still keeping beverages cold.

Additionally, I recommended low-flow toilets and submetering. Changing a specialized part in the bathroom toilets in three buildings will reduce the volume of water-per-flush, saving water and the energy needed to move it. Submetering, though it doesn’t directly result in energy savings, will provide the data needed to justify future energy efficiency projects.

Doing so, however, shouldn’t be difficult. Using a 10-year investment horizon, I estimate that these projects will generate a combined net present value of $270,000.