Washington, D.C.’s only public university has set a lofty goal for itself: to become the national model for urban sustainability, both in campus operations and educational offerings.
UDC started by launching several pilot projects designed to expand the limits of energy efficiency practices on the main campus, in consultation with the District of Columbia Sustainable Energy Utility (DC SEU). The projects fall into three principal categories: energy management practices, light fixture replacement, and light bulb swap-out.
These initial efforts included installing Encellium energy management software, with the support of the DC SEU, to control the timing and intensity of energy use for light fixtures in key executive rooms. The hope was that District decision-makers and key “influentials” at the University would embrace the potential of energy efficiency.
Plug control devices and monitoring software systems were installed in the mathematics laboratory. Vending machines were outfitted with energy misers, which operate on motion sensors. Over 100 standard light fixtures were replaced with high-performance ones. More than 80 halogen lamps were swapped for LED flood lamps in the law library. All together, these changes resulted in energy savings of more than 40,000 kWh and $6,000 in operating costs every year.
The University partnered with SavWatt, a Baltimore-based innovator of LED lighting, to install a prototype off-grid LED streetlight that operates entirely on wind and solar energy. And it is working with J & F Labs, a partner in internet-controlled electric switches, to develop technology tools to better control plug loads.
The DC SEU worked to ensure that these projects are all designed with careful monitoring and objective evaluation in mind, in order to record improvements in energy performance. This will enhance UDC’s ongoing efforts to further sustainability practices and document complementary impacts on teaching and learning at the institution. They are also designed to be easily replicable and scalable.
UDC Director of Sustainability and Planning Howard Ways says the initiative has helped to create a renewed culture of data-driven policy and operational decisions at the University, with measurable outcomes and milestones becoming standard operating procedure.
“Greening our campus and our operations has provided opportunities for students to live and learn in a sustainable manner, for the university to expand partnerships and leverage shared interests, and for UDC to fully capitalize on its location in the nation’s capital,” Ways said.
Next steps: a new 10-year Campus Growth Plan, Strategic Sustainability Plan, and continued engagement with the DC SEU to develop environmentally preferred purchasing practices that extend UDC’s green vision to the procurement of goods and services. The university is also upgrading its HVAC across the campus and is installing an energy management system. Moving forward, LEED certification for all new construction is also part of the equation.
In January, UDC broke ground on an 80,000-square-foot new LEED Platinum student center, complete with green roofs and a geothermal heating and cooling system. As the hub of daily life on campus, it is a tangible symbol of the university’s commitment to urban sustainability as key to the school’s future — and its students.
|Annual Energy Savings (kwh/yr):||50,102|
|Total Savings ($):||$6,353|
|Total Project Cost:||$75,267|