According to the Midwest Buildings Technology Application Center located at The University of Illinois—Chicago, university buildings account for almost 60% of all energy consumption through heating, cooling, and lighting systems. For cost-effectiveness, buildings need to become more efficient, which can be done by actions such as improving the building envelope, adding insulation to walls and roofs, changing lighting, upgrading HVAC systems, and retro-commissioning existing heating and cooling systems. In addition, using energy from sustainable sources can provide the maximum benefit to both savings and reduction of pollution. Sustainable energy sources are those whose stock is rapidly replenished by natural processes and not expected to be depleted within the lifetime of the human species. They do not involve combustion of fossil fuel and therefore do not contribute directly to global warming or other degradation of the environment. They also avoid the use of nuclear fuels, and usually avoid direct production of toxic wastes.
At UTPA, energy savings starts at the design phase of each new building construction or renovation. For example, all new buildings are designed and built to meet or exceed energy code standards. Items such as energy-efficient lighting systems and energy-efficient cooling and heating systems are evaluated for compliance with American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) 90.1. The purpose of this standard is to provide minimum requirements for the energy-efficient design of buildings including minimum energy-efficient requirements for the design and construction, upgrades of new systems and equipment in existing buildings, and meeting criteria for determining compliance with these requirements. This can include basic energy efficiency requirements that must be met for the building envelope, HVAC (heating ventilation and air conditioning), lighting, etc. For each project, a simplified cost-benefit analysis of natural gas vs. electric heating systems will be conducted for maximum efficiency, based on prior building electrical consumption.
Promoting energy awareness on campus is important to UTPA. Student campaigns on ways that we can promote energy efficiency on campus and in the community are scheduled to air in fall, 2010. We believe we can achieve carbon-neutrality on this campus, and it starts with all of us working together.
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