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Aiming for Conservation, Sustainability

November 17, 2004

Northwestern has implemented new policies and projects, effective Nov. 1, to further its commitment to environmental sustainability.

“Sustainability is an important global issue, and we are committed to taking appropriate steps to minimize Northwestern’s impact on the natural environment,” said President Henry S. Bienen.

The new initiatives, many of which will reduce energy consumption and thus save money for the University, consist of three primary measures:

Energy Use Policies

Indoor temperature settings in all spaces controlled by the University’s energy management system will be standardized to a range of 68 to 71 degrees during the heating season and a range of 73 to 76 degrees during the cooling season. Occupants who control the temperatures in their spaces are expected to follow this policy by using these ranges.

Individuals are expected to turn off lights when leaving rooms that are no longer occupied and to turn off office equipment, including personal computers when possible, at the end of the day. Facilities Management employees will turn off lights and equipment, except for personal computers and fax machines, that have not been turned off by occupants.

All University equipment purchases must be Energy Star rated; if there is no rating for the equipment, highly efficient equipment should be purchased. Energy Star helps businesses and individuals protect the environment and improve financial performance through superior energy efficiency.

The United States Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system will be used as a standard for design and construction of new buildings.

The goals of sustainable design are reduction of the destruction of natural areas and habitats; reduction of air and water pollution and solid waste; reduction of the depletion of finite resources; healthier and safer indoor environments; healthier outdoor environments; and occupant satisfaction.Major renovation projects will also meet the LEED certification guidelines.

All new and renovation projects where feasible will include installation of Direct Digital Control systems linked to the Campus Energy Management System so that the temperature set-points can be applied to a larger percentage of space over time.

New construction (and renovation projects where applicable), will be designed to provide at least a 20 percent improvement over energy code requirements where technically feasible and where payback is reasonable.

Projects Underway to Increase Energy Efficiency

The core Evanston campus has 6,500 rooms used for offices, conference rooms, classrooms and restrooms. The Chicago campus has 1,300 rooms in academic and medical buildings. Occupancy sensors will be installed in these rooms in 2005 to significantly reduce electrical usage by automatically turning off lights when the rooms are unoccupied; lights will remain on when the rooms are occupied.

A survey will be done in 2004-05 of spaces that have too many light fixtures and are over-lit. The goal is to reduce the number of light bulbs, with lighting for all spaces at or above industry standards.

A water conservation program was implemented in Evanston academic buildings and resulted in substantial savings. A similar program will be implemented soon in athletic facilities and a program for residential buildings is expected to be implemented in 2005.

Future Investments to Achieve Greater Energy Efficiency

Cogeneration, the simultaneous production of electrical power and thermal energy, lowers the cost of electricity and steam and lowers air pollutants. A Chicago cogeneration project is expected to provide 86 percent of the campus’ electrical needs. A cogeneration feasibility study is underway for the Evanston campus and is expected to be completed next year.

Lighting accounts for about one-third of electrical costs. About half of Northwestern’s space has older, inefficient lighting that could be retrofitted to more efficient technology. A study will be undertaken to verify retrofit opportunities and will be completed next year.

Topics: University News