Been There. Done That.

Important lessons learned in the quest for energy efficient education

Your morning probably started like many of your peers. The voice in your head asks, “What’s possible for today? What can I tackle on my to-do list toimprove learning environments? Where will I find the budget?”

Easier said than done. Optimism can quickly be squashed by tight budgets, daunting deferred maintenance, and competing priorities – unless you can benefit from those who have already tackled the challenge. Later this month, higher education leaders will gather in Nashville for the National Association of College and University Business Officers annual meeting. As we look ahead to this important opportunity to network and share best practices, here are five important lessons from your peers you can apply today.

Jim Stephens
Director of Utilities & Engineering Services
Florida State University

Plan and collaborate.
We believe in long-range capital planning. If a project within a facility can be integrated into other planned projects, it meets multiple needs and potentially gets more done for fewer dollars. What helps our institution keep a holistic view is that multiple teams, Design & Construction, Utilities & Engineering Services, and Facilities Maintenance, all meet on a regular basis to share capital plans. If the maintenance team has a replacement project planned, for example, and an energy project is planned for the same building, the project scopes are compared to see if there is a way to drive value.

Al Stoverink
Facilities Manager
Arkansas State University

Smart financing expedites results.
It is great to finance projects internally, but the reality is that it takes a long time to make progress. We cannot operate at that pace to achieve the kind of impact we are looking for. In 2009, the Arkansas state legislature passed Act 1494, which encouraged public institutions to reduce their overall energy consumption by 20 percent. New legislation gave us access to performance contracting, a financing model which uses projected utility savings to offset the cost projects.

Mike Unebasami
Associate Vice President for Administrative Affairs
University of Hawai’i Community Colleges

Optimize now and maintain forever.
People don’t like to talk about it, but deferred maintenance is a huge challenge. We had our list of priorities, but our energy services partner identified issues that we had not considered, including older technology that wasn’t necessarily failing, but using far more energy than needed. One of the best decisions we made was to incorporate planned service into our performance contracts. The energy services partner that installed the technology has ongoing responsibility for keeping it up and running efficiently. No finger pointing and no failures.

Rick Krysiak
Chief Facilities Officer,
Oklahoma State University

Integration is everything.
Energy and operational efficiency isn’t about single pieces of new equipment. Our research and lab facilities, for example, feature integrated air and energy management technologies that are almost as intelligent as the student researchers inside. Our air flow management systems ventilate areas based on occupancy and air quality levels, instead of constant air exchanges that waste energy. Integrated technologies are key.

Stephen C. Head
Chief Executive Officer,
Lone Star College System

Efficiency is a marathon, not a sprint.
Looking at the cost of operating facilities is just as important as constructing a building under budget. For example, if you calculate that a building costs $40 per square foot to operate, and the building is 100,000 square-feet, make sure you add $4 million to your budget to run the building after construction completes. This practical, business way of looking at every project helps manage expenses and keep our focus on the students.

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