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Thursday May 26th

How UNC's energy consumption stacks up against other universities

<p>Duke Energy workers install one of 10 LED streetlights on Franklin Street in 2012 as part of a 12-month pilot program to evaluate the effectiveness of the LED lamps in increasing safety at night. The lamps are also expected to last longer and lower carbon emissions.</p>
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Duke Energy workers install one of 10 LED streetlights on Franklin Street in 2012 as part of a 12-month pilot program to evaluate the effectiveness of the LED lamps in increasing safety at night. The lamps are also expected to last longer and lower carbon emissions.

Energy consumption at UNC increased from 2017 to 2018, despite UNC's goal of reducing Energy Use Intensity by 40 percent between 2003 and 2025.

Since 2003, UNC reported a 33 percent reduction in EUI, the amount of energy used per square foot per year, by 2017. This number dropped to 31 percent for the 2018 fiscal year. 

Cindy Register, assistant director of engineering services for Energy Management at UNC, said the increased EUI on campus in 2018 was primarily a result of increased steam and chilled water consumption. Steam and chilled water production is a large part of the process that produces energy for buildings, including heat, lighting and power. 

The energy goal was put in place by an executive order from Gov. Roy Cooper in October 2018. The order is a guiding measure for all state-owned buildings, including university buildings, to decrease EUI. 

In order to meet the 40 percent energy reduction goal by 2025, Energy Management will focus on investigating why there was an increased use of steam and working on ways to reverse the increased use, Register said.

To reduce steam and chilled water consumption, Energy Management will repair key parts of the system that can drain energy when damaged, schedule off-hours for lab sterilization equipment that use steam production and use water purification systems that do not require a heating and distilling process in labs, Register said.

“It’s important for us to save energy because we are protecting our resources, which is very critical, and we also save money,” Register said. “We’re saving dollars that we would spend to buy energy.”

And the dollars are critical. 

Since 2003, UNC had saved $382.6 million in energy costs by the end of 2018, Register said. Cost is a driving factor for universities' efforts to reduce energy consumption.

But counterparts to UNC such as North Carolina State University are making more ambitious energy goals. N.C. State moved their goal of attaining 40 percent less EUI to 2022, instead of 2025, said Erik Hall, N.C. State’s director of Energy Management. 

Hall said they hope to try and cut the use to 50 percent by 2025. 

“We should be leading the charge and showing the way for others, and we take that seriously,” Hall said. “The reality of the rates dictates that we have to find ways of staying within our budgets and one of the ways of doing that is by reducing our consumption.” 

In order to meet these energy goals, N.C. State has invested in various projects across its campus, including innovative projects on historic buildings, LED lights installed throughout campus and new technology that recycles air inside of buildings, Hall said. 

The transition to LED lighting is a shift UNC also made with the rest of the UNC system, said Jason Tyson, director of Media Relations for the UNC system.

“We learn a lot from UNC, we learn a lot from App State, ECU – we have a great group of universities and we collaborate really well," Hall said.

@JessySnouwaert

university@dailytarheel.com

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