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Amid March Madness, Eight Energy-Efficient Campuses in the NCAA Tournament

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University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (Photograph courtesy University of North Carolina)

Students of all ages are accustomed to being graded on their work and ranked against their peers. It’s a common practice for just about everything in society from education to politics, but athletics is perhaps one of the most scrutinized and ranked fields out there. With college basketball’s March Madness tournament just around the corner, the Alliance to Save Energy, a nonprofit organization that promotes energy efficiency, has compiled its picks for the most energy-efficient campuses entering the NCAA competition.

In no particular order, here are the Alliance’s EE Eight:

University of Oregon: Eugene, Ore.

The University of Oregon is one of the most energy-efficient college campuses in the United States. In 2012, the school replaced 33,000 T12 florescent light bulbs with energy-efficient T8 models, saving $98,000. The University also recently adopted a new policy that requires all new buildings to be 35% more efficient than required by the Oregon Energy Code as well as achieve a net zero increase in campus-wide energy use. New energy-efficient buildings on campus include:

  • Lillis Hall, features the largest installation of architectural solar glass in the Pacific Northwest. It is recognized as one of the most environmentally friendly business schools in the nation and is LEED-Silver certified.
  • The Living Learning Center, one of the University of Oregon’s newest resident halls, features solar hot water heating, occupancy sensors in resident rooms, and light timers in corridors to reduce energy consumption.

University of Florida: Gainesville, Fla.

The University of Florida has made strides to become a sustainable and energy-efficient college campus. In fact, UF President J. Bernard Machen was the first president to sign the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment, committing to reduce UF’s carbon emissions and educate its campus community about climate change. Since 2007, UF has reduced its electrical consumption by 6.35% per gross square foot, and now requires all new buildings to have LEED-Gold certification. Additional measures UF is taking to reduce carbon emissions and energy use include:

  • The Chop Down on Energy campaign, which encourages students, faculty, and staff to conserve energy throughout campus.
  • A plan to re-commission campus buildings, retrofitting chilled water loops and replacing lighting systems.
  • Scheduling temperature set-backs for campus heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) systems in buildings when they are unoccupied.

Duke University: Durham, N.C.

In 2011, Duke University eliminated the use of coal in campus steam plants as part of its plan to become carbon neutral by 2024. Additionally, Duke currently has 22 LEED certified buildings and has made a commitment to ensure all new buildings going forward achieve LEED certification. Additional initiatives Duke is taking to become more sustainable include:

  • Installing a new centralized chilled water system that is 20% more energy efficient than the previous decentralized system.
  • Instituting a new building temperature and scheduling policy that will save the University more than $600,000 annually.
  • A program that provides CFL light bulbs to incoming freshman for use in their personal lamps.

University of California, Berkeley: Berkeley, Calif.

U.C. Berkeley is committed to improving its campus’ sustainability. Since 2006, the University has established projects under its Strategic Energy Plan to reduce energy use in all campus buildings. Teaming up with PG&E to work on these projects, U.C. Berkeley has already saved over $2.5 million annually. U.C. Berkeley is also an Alliance PowerSave Campus participant.  Sustainability efforts at U.C. Berkeley include:

  • 7% of the campus’ total square footage is LEED certified.
  • Numerous energy management systems across campus control HVAC and lighting.
  • 21 water bottle refill stations have reduced campus waste as well as campus water bottle sales by 48% since 2006.

University of North Carolina: Chapel Hill, N.C.

The University of North Carolina is definitely ahead of the curve when it comes to campus sustainability. UNC’s Education Center is the first state-owned building in North Carolina to earn LEED platinum status.  Further, since 2003 UNC has reduced its energy use per square foot by 20% saving the University $64 million. Initiatives that have contributed to the campus’ reduction in energy use (and bills!) include:

  • An upgraded steam distribution system, which reduces thermal loss by 7%, and is saving UNC approximately $1 million annually.
  • Outdoor lighting replaced with energy-efficient LED bulbs.

University of Wisconsin: Madison, Wis.

In 2006, the University of Wisconsin was determined to promote environmental stewardship and reduce campus energy usage by 20% through its “We Conserve” initiative. To date the initiative has been a great success, lowering the University’s energy usage by 1.2 trillion BTUs annually and energy costs by over $13 million. Here are a few ways Wisconsin achieved its 20% reduction goal:

  • Retrofitting outdated buildings with new components such as high-efficiency lighting and HVAC systems.
  • Implementing energy use monitoring systems to evaluate and reduce energy use on campus.

University of Colorado, Boulder: Boulder, Colo.

CU-Boulder was the first university to establish a campus-wide recycling program, and it currently boasts one of the most advanced recycling programs in the nation.  The campus is also a leader in energy efficiency, having reduced its total energy use by 20% compared to 2005 levels, despite campus growth of 25% (about 2.2 million square feet in facilities). The initiatives that have contributed to the campus’ reduction in energy use include:

  • Replacing halide pole lights with efficient LED lights.
  • Using an advanced automated HVAC system.
  • Installing numerous solar panels on campus.

Syracuse University: Syracuse, N.Y.

While Syracuse University’s mascot is an orange, the campus aims to “go green.” In 2005, Syracuse began powering the campus with renewable energy and since then 20% of campus energy comes from wind power. The EPA estimates the campus avoids CO2 emissions equal to the emissions of 3,000 automobiles annually. Other energy efficiency efforts Syracuse has implemented include:

  • Installing an Energy Management System that monitors and schedules the HVAC and building access control systems in all campus buildings, this system reduces Syracuse’s energy usage by 15%.
  • Replaced all exit sign light bulbs with LEDs.
  • Retrofitted buildings on campus to meet LEED standards.

Just as these campuses have done in the energy efficiency arena, here’s hoping the Alliance’s EE Eight make great strides in the NCAA tournament!

This post originally appeared at the Alliance to Save Energy and has been republished with permission.