Heat-wave energy efforts yield dramatic savings

by Chuck Brown, UNMC public relations | July 16, 2012

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A total team effort by the campus community during a recent heat wave has led to a cost avoidance that will surpass the $250,000 saved in a similar push last summer.

"I can't put a specific number to it yet but the savings stands to be significantly more than we experienced last summer," said Ken Hansen, assistant vice chancellor for facilities management and planning. "I'm amazed at what we were able to accomplish during this period.

"I applaud the entire campus community for its efforts."

Every bit counted

Several factors combined to help keep campus energy use down and this led to a lower rate of energy expenditure during a peak period -- which is when the Omaha Public Power District sets the rates it charges customers for energy.

"That we were able to keep our energy use down in the peak period means the rate we pay for energy will be significantly less and this translates in substantial cost avoidance and savings," Hansen said.

Contributing factors

Main factors that led to this savings included:

  • A campus curtailment effort in which employees hit the lights, closed blinds and took other steps to reduce energy consumption;
  • The benefits of improved energy systems that UNMC installed thanks to federal stimulus dollars; and
  • Major overhauls in the UNMC Central Utility Plant that increased energy efficiency and other efforts by facilities personnel to lessen energy use around campus.

Key players

Hansen particularly noted the efforts of the Darren Dageforde, director of utilities, and the Central Utility Plant staff.

"Darren and his team work around the clock to help our energy operations run smoothly," Hansen said.

Strategically green

Hansen also gave nods to Rick Kmiecik, director of strategic initiatives; and Melanie Stewart, director of the UNMC LiveGreen initiative.

"Rick and Melanie and their teams helped make this possible with their efforts to improve infrastructure and influence behavior change on campus," Hansen said.

Not out of the woods yet

Hansen urged the campus to continue its curtailment efforts as the hot weather persists this summer.

"The 10-day forecast calls for lots of highs in the high 90s," Hansen said. "This presents us with even more opportunities to keep our rates low, which will translate into greater savings. And that means the money we save on energy can be used elsewhere."

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