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UNC Makes Huge Strides in Reducing Energy Consumption and Costs

UNC Makes Huge Strides in Reducing Energy Consumption and Costs

October 22, 2018

The University of Northern Colorado has saved more than $1.5 million in energy costs since 2016 through a campus-wide energy conservation program called powerED that rolled out in partnership with McKinstry. In total, UNC has reduced energy consumption by 27 percent including an 18 percent decrease of electricity use, 29 percent decrease of natural gas use and 12 percent decrease of water use.

The ongoing powerED program is implemented collaboratively with students, staff and groups within departments that emphasizes behavioral changes to promote energy efficiency and sustainability. Highlights include:

  • 800 UNC staff and students have registered for a UNC People.Power.Planet account
  • Over 500 routine actions, 300 pledges and 100 key energy-saving actions accomplished by participants, and over 80 have signed up to be a Campus Leader
  • Dozens of featured activities including energy use buildings tours and a current energy challenge between two residence halls

The UNC facilities team, in collaboration with McKinstry, has ensured efficient building operations through ongoing energy and operational optimization, such as implementing comprehensive building shutdowns over winter break.

A dashboard designed to serve as a high-level, monthly energy report provides a snapshot of site-specific energy performance, benchmarks and overall savings at UNC to inform and engage program participants.

UNC and McKinstry are also making progress on the installation of a solar project on Parsons Hall that is being funded through the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment's Supplemental Environmental Projects (SEP) Program. The system is expected to be operational in the spring and will produce close to 4.7 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity — the average consumption for a U.S. home is about 11,000 kWh annually — with estimated savings of $176,500 over the expected 20-year life of the system. In addition, the project is expected to reduce carbon emissions by 3,500 metric tons, which is equivalent to removing 749 cars being driven on roads in a year.