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Energy & Water
Conservation of energy is one of the most significant aspects of environmentally conscious design. An energy-efficient design reduces the amount of raw materials consumed, annual operating costs, and the amount of carbon dioxide produced. The Energy and Water work group focuses on initiatives related to energy conservation for existing and new buildings, and adopting water conservation practices in landscaping and building operations.
The University recognizes that the first step toward curbing emissions is conserving the energy resources the University currently uses. Examples include: lighting upgrades, transformer and air compressors upgrades, occupancy sensors installation, purchase of "Energy Star" rated equipment, incorporating highly reflective rooftop surfaces into design standards, installation of meters for facilties, etc.
The University uses water for a variety of activities: building operations and maintenance, research and development activities, landscaping and irrigation, dining, sanitation, and domestic use. To meet our goal, we retrofit a portion of our facilities with water-efficient equipment and technologies each year. The pace of our progress varies based upon annual budgets and operational priorities. Since 2006, we have implemented the following water-efficiency improvements:
- Installation of low-flow showerheads in 1,500 showers in the summer of 2011 to save one gallon of water per minute of use. Estimated savings are 27 million gallons of water annually.
- Retrofit of an average of five restrooms per year by installing low-flow toilets and sinks.
- Upgrade of heating and cooling system steam traps in 2006 and in 2009, which capture steam condensate and recirculate the collected water back through the system for re-use. Condensate returned to the boilers was improved from 60 to 85 percent, saving millions of gallons annually.
- Installation of water-to-water heat exchanges in research lab activities that use domestic cold water.
- Installation of a weather-based, radio-transmit master control system that is recognized by the U.S. EPA WaterSense program for reducing irrigation water by a projected 20 to 40 percent
Installation of a 28,000-gallon capacity rainwater collection system at the Engineering Research Building, which can hold up to one inch of rainfall from the building’s catchment area and capture condensate water from the air conditioning system during summer months. Captured water is stored for single reuse in landscape irrigation.
Operational costs savings
From an operational perspective, sustainability makes sense and sustainability makes cents. Therefore, energy conservation at UT Arlington has been a priority for decades, not only from an environmental perspective but cost-savings as well. Since 1973, UT Arlington has had an aggressive energy conservation program dedicated to staying ahead of increasing fuel and utility costs and in doing so, keep down the impact on tuition and wages. One recently completed energy conservation project, for example, will save over $2,250,000 annually in utility and operations costs with simple payback of only 8 years and yield a total saving of $18,000,000.
Carbon footprint analysis
In order to better understand current levels of environmental impact and provide benchmarking for goal-setting, UT Arlington completed a Carbon Footprint Analysis in 2008. Led by Jeff Howard, assistant professor in the School of Urban and Public Affairs, the analysis took months of research conducted by graduate students and facilities personnel alike. With the completion of the project, UT Arlington became the second of only two Texas universities to complete such an analysis. The results indicated that over 85% of the carbon generated by the University currently comes from energy use in buildings.
Long-term utility contracts
UT Arlington has procured long-term utility contracts in partnership with several other universities that helped contain building-related costs. Additionally, the University has worked with Siemens Building Technologies (Siemens) to perform energy and infrastructure analysis of the campus facilities. The analysis identified 18 opportunities for "Energy Cost Reduction Measures (ECRMs)," which are facility improvements with the most potential for energy and operations savings while improving overall occupant comfort. Some of these ECRMs will include the addition of a new 4,000 ton satellite chilled water plant, transformer upgrades, comprehensive lighting retrofits, occupancy sensors, air handling unit replacement, high efficiency motor upgrades, and HVAC improvements to several buildings on campus (including the Arlington Regional Data Center, NanoFab lab building, Swift Center, Maverick Stadium and the Wetsel building).
Additional programs for energy conservation have been made possible through external partnerships. The City of Arlington and TXU, for example, each donated one hundred trees which have been planted throughout the campus. UT Arlington is working with several energy service companies, the State Energy Conservation Office and the APPA Lone Star Program to pursue grants and loans for additional energy conservation. The ECRMs will continue to provide excellent simple paybacks, and several will qualify for the Texas and TXU Rebate Program Guidelines. Through these efforts and others, UT Arlington saves critical resources and operates with environmental, ethical and fiscal responsibility.
Nick Schroeder,Facilities Engineer, Facilities Management
Wayne Pirtle, Director, Information Technology