NKU joins in energy-saving initiative

Northern Kentucky University has joined forces with Gov. Ernie Fletcher in an effort to cut down on energy usage in Kentucky.

Fletcher developed a goal to lower the state’s energy consumption by 10 percent after The Legislative Research Commissions Subcommittee on Energy stated in 2003 Kentucky needed a policy to help use resources more efficiently, according to the state’s energy Web site.

The state and university implemented the Energy Savings Performance Contract (ESPC) in an effort to reach its goal. To use an ESPC, an institution must enter into an agreement with a private energy service company that identifies energy-savings opportunities. Once savings are identified, the excess funds are used to create a package of improvements, usually over a contract term of seven to 10 years, according to the Energy Services Coalition Web site.

In September 2004, NKU signed a 12-year ESPC with Siemens Building Technologies, Inc. that has allowed NKU to save $591,000 of the $4,510,000 it spends on energy costs annually. The university mirrored Fletcher’s goal to decrease the cost of energy by 10 percent and that goal was surpassed, according to Larry Blake, assistant vice president for Facilities Management.

“It is important, however, to recognize that the focus needs to be on consumption reduction, not just dollar savings,” Blake said.

Blake has been working with the facilities management staff and the Student Government Association to determine additional ways to cut down on energy costs. An energy efficiency effort across the campus is the first step, Blake said. The effort includes improving heating, ventilation, and air conditioning controls and replacing inefficient equipment, such as lighting, toilets and water faucets.He also offered advice for staff, faculty and students at NKU to help cut down on energy costs. He recommends turning out the lights upon leaving a room, eliminating decorative lighting and shutting down computers if not in use.

“Even in sleep mode, a computer can consume up to 150 watts of energy,” Blake said.

He also suggests turning off radios and televisions when not in use, closing exterior doors and reporting doors or windows that will not close.

If all students, faculty and staff took an active interest in eliminating just the unnecessary consumption, NKU could realistically save an additional $300,000 annually, Blake said.

Blake believes the university is certainly trying to do all that it can to decrease the consumption of energy. “The university and its leadership are committed to providing the resources necessary to reach our goals, but that must be done over time,” Blake said.