At a university the size of UNCW, keeping the campus up and running is a big job. “The energy costs for the campus are eighteen to twenty thousand dollars every day, to operate the heating and cooling costs on campus,” said Tom Freshwater, director of the UNCW physical plant.
Progress has been made to cut costs and become ‘greener’ in the last several years. A Senate bill mandated a 20 percent cut in usage to all state buildings. UNCW beat the 2010 deadline by more than nine months.
“This year, our energy bill was six and a half million dollars, and without the reductions that we’ve made in the last year or so it would have been closer to nine million dollars,” added Freshwater.
A lot of the savings methods the school is using, are things we can do at home. Freshwater said, “Similar to what you might do at home, when you go out of town you cut your thermostat back. Well we’re doing that automatically at night, on weeknights, to save energy when the buildings aren’t being used. And when you have as many buildings as we have on campus, a little bit makes a big difference.”
In addition to lowering thermostats, the school has invested in motion sensor lights in classrooms, built central power substations, and is looking to tie air conditioning to light usage in the future.
University leaders said they are committed to further cutting costs in the future. “It’s very important to continue finding ways to curtail energy costs, and there are lots of opportunities,” Freshwater said.
Not only has the university saved money on energy, but it has also cut its water usage by fourteen percent by installing more efficient fixtures in bathrooms, as well as making improvements to the campus irrigation system.