UC, CSU strive to save energy

    The California Public Utilities Commission awarded the University of California and California State University a $12 million grant to implement energy efficiency programs on Dec. 18. The grant, which will be divided evenly between the University of California and California State University, would be used to fund renovations and retrofits of buildings in order to make them more energy efficient.

    “”This award is a great step toward implementing our environmental sustainability policies,”” UC Senior Vice President for Business and Finance Joseph P. Mullinix said. “”It will really boost our energy efficiency efforts.””

    The grant will help implement a new Board of Regents policy to shift to “”green”” buildings and establish a standard for the use of clean energy sources.

    The policy, adopted in July 2003, calls for the University of California to incorporate the use of renewable energy sources and meet minimum standards for energy efficiency with the goal of meeting 20 percent of its energy needs with renewable sources by 2017 and reducing total energy consumption by 10 percent by 2014.

    The grant will primarily be used to fund energy efficiency retrofits and training programs, including the installation of energy-saving lighting and light controls; heating, ventilation and air conditioning upgrades; improved energy management controls; the “”re-tuning”” of buildings’ energy systems to ensure maximum efficiency; and energy efficiency training for employees.

    According to the UC Office of the President, the initiatives will save up to 20 percent of each building’s energy use. The universities will implement the programs beginning February 2004 in conjunction with the Pacific Gas and Electric, Southern California Edison and Southern California Gas companies. CPUC is also considering an additional grant to allow the universities to work with San Diego Gas and Electric.

    “”In general, our feeling is that any positive impact on cleaning up our energy program is a step in the right direction,”” said Alana Stamas, associate field director for Environment California, a division of the California Public Interest Research Group. “”We totally support the University of California for getting involved, and I think they are doing a lot of the basics in terms of training people and educating people. So I would say that, by and large, they are doing a good job of leading the universities of the country.””

    The programs aim to reduce the universities’ energy burden by more than 2.5 Megawatts of peak electrical demand and 15 million Kilowatt-hours per year, in addition to conserving natural gas use by over 700,000 therms per year. No projection for the potential monetary savings for the universities has been released.

    In its own effort to promote “”green”” energy and comply with the Board of Regents’ policy, UCSD has recently completed the installation of nine solar-powered lighting units at shuttle stops and selected places on campus, with the possibility of adding more if the program is successful. In addition to saving energy, the use of solar-powered lights, which don’t require the laying of expensive power lines, reduces construction costs.

    “”This [grant] is an innovative partnership that will not only reduce energy consumption, but also gets the important energy efficiency message out to 33 campuses of the UC and CSU systems,”” CPUC Commissioner Susan P. Kennedy said. “”I am delighted to see the UC and CSU systems working with the utilities to reduce California’s energy consumption.””

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