Utilities budget set for $5m as College lowers energy usage

Last week, the College switched on the campus central heating plant and other heating systems in College buildings. As the campus makes this annual switch for the winter season, the College’s annual energy consumption is the lowest it has been in 10 years.

Facilities’ budget for utilities for the 2011-12 fiscal year has decreased to $5,027,771 from last year’s budget of $5,254,579. According to Don Clark, utility program manager, the budget decrease is mainly due to the College’s successful negotiation for a lower gas rate from its supplier, Shell Energy.

The largest utility expenditure, taking up 51 percent of this year’s budget, or $2,564,163, has been allotted to heat and hot water. Another 39 percent, or $1,960,831, will be spent on electricity, and the remaining 10 percent, or $502,777, will be spent on residential and all-campus water and sewage costs.

Facilities has set the temperatures of rooms to 68 degrees.

According to Clark, the College is “winding down with a utility master plan which looked at future utility capital needs of the College for the next five to 25 years.” The plan represents a detailed look at the College’s utilities patterns. “This looked at equipment and practices with recommendations which will make our campus more efficient and reliable going forward,” he said.

The Zilkha Center for Environmental Initiatives has been exploring options to reduce energy through renewable energy projects. “We have installed photovoltaic arrays on the library shelving facilities and solar hot water systems on Susie Hopkins, Lambert and Fort Hoosac student residences,” said Stephanie Boyd, director of the Zilkha Center, who is currently on leave.

The College has reduced its energy consumption more than 13 percent since its peak in 2005 due to recent energy efficiency projects focusing on energy use in the science centers, lighting in numerous buildings on campus and the renovation of hood systems in Bronfman Science Center.

Vice President for Campus Life Steve Klass attributed the success in reducing the budget to a combination of the significant conservation steps the College has taken and energy unit prices that are moderating over time.

“The third piece to be worked on is educating individuals as to how they can help on their own,” Klass said. “It’s about the little things the humans in the system can do to manage our daily lives more responsibly.”

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