A sustainability focus led by Facilities, Maintenance and Operations employees is saving millions of dollars annually and holding the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s energy consumption lower than that of its peer institutions.
According to an annual review by third-party consultant Gordian, the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s electric and fossil fuel consumption is lower than comparable peer institutions, including other Big Ten partners. Facilities, Maintenance and Operations Energy Services accomplished this through its dedication to providing safe, smart, reliable spaces for the university to accomplish its teaching and research missions by being sustainable, economical, reliable and resilient.
To reach these levels of efficiency, “we have invested in higher efficiency equipment over the last 20 years,’’ said Lalit Agarwal, executive director of university operations.
Highly-efficient systems mean that campus gets the desired benefit (safe, reliable, comfortable campus) from less input energy. They help the budget by reducing the fuel bills paid to our electric and gas suppliers and reduce the amount of fossil fuels needed to supply campus energy needs.
“We started thinking from a total cost of ownership mindset, rather than just focusing on the lowest first-cost,” Agarwal said. “At UNL we have done a good job of making that part of our DNA, we think energy-first to make sure that the choices we make are going to lead to those energy optimizations.”
For example, the university invested $11.9 million into its City Campus thermal energy storage tank, which went online in 2018. The 8.3 million gallon tank is designed to work like a battery by chilling and storing water during times of low demand, then utilizing the chilled water to cool campus during times of high energy demand.