University saves nearly $1 million in energy costs

The University saved almost $1 million during the last fiscal year by cutting energy costs, University President Steven Knapp told faculty members last month.

GW saved $950,000 from July 2008 to the end of June 2009, Knapp announced during last month’s faculty assembly. Sustainability has become a top priority at GW, fueled by the growing trend of colleges going green, but also by Knapp’s personal dedication to sustainability – which the president recently listed as an interest on his Facebook page.

Saving money has also been a theme at the University since the launch of the Innovation Task Force earlier this semester. The goal of the task force is to look at areas of the University that are not spending money in the most efficient manner and direct those funds elsewhere. Knapp said at the assembly meeting that he hopes money from energy savings will contribute to these savings.

Saving energy reduces the University’s carbon footprint and allows the saved money to be spent elsewhere in the University, said Director of Planning and Environmental Management for the University Nancy Giammatteo.

“We are always looking for ways to save electricity, like [as] was done last year where our efforts translated to a smaller carbon footprint by over 4,500 metric tons of CO2,” Giammatteo said. “This achievement was made possible through the collective efforts of many people and organizations across the GW community.”

The long-term goal of the University is to make the school carbon-neutral, officials from the Office of Sustainability said, referencing a plan to reduce or offset the carbon footprint of the University in terms of its buildings, commuting and air travel.

Over the last fiscal year, GW improved energy efficiency by 6.2 percent, based off a kilowatt hour per square foot measurement, which takes the average cost to the University for each KWH and applies it to total square footage of the University’s buildings, Giammatteo said.

“These savings enabled [the University] to absorb some of the rate increases that occurred during the year without increasing overall spending,” Giammatteo said.

Of the $950,000 in savings, $100,000 stemmed from efforts to improve lighting in academic classrooms and installing occupancy sensors and programmable thermostats and timers for air conditioning and boilers in locations throughout campus.

With the saved money, the University was able to apply more cost-cutting energy improvements, Giammatteo said.

Last year, $250,000 was put into upgrades and expansion of a computerized energy management system, which improves the control of heating and air conditioning systems on campus. This year, about $225,000 will be invested in other energy-saving projects, primarily those involving energy-efficient lighting on the Mount Vernon campus.

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.