Strategic Summer Scheduling Reaps Energy Savings

summer-classroomA hot, humid North Carolina summer isn’t when you might expect NC State to save nearly $900 a day in avoided energy costs. But thanks to a new initiative, the university is driving down utility costs through strategic summer classroom scheduling.

During summer, campus buildings host fewer classes and events than fall and spring semesters. By consolidating events and classes into a few buildings, the university was able to reduce air conditioning levels in unoccupied buildings, creating energy savings.

From May 11 to August 16, the Summer Energy Savings Initiative impacted 23 classroom buildings, many of which are equipped with technology allowing air conditioning levels to be scheduled and controlled remotely. After the last scheduled class or event of the day and on the weekends, air conditioning levels were reduced so that the university didn’t pay to unnecessarily cool unoccupied spaces.

“With utility costs among NC State’s largest expenses, summer presents a strategic opportunity to save energy,” said Claudia Powell, an energy program coordinator with Energy Management.  “During the 67 weekdays this summer, $60,000 in energy costs were avoided as compared to baseline utility bills. If you factor in holidays and weekends, the savings for the entire summer tops $87,000.”

The initiative is a collaboration of Registration and Records and Facilities Operations, including the University Sustainability Office, Energy Management and Building Maintenance and Operations. After a successful pilot effort during 2014’s second summer session, the collaborative expanded the initiative this year to include Maymester, Summer I and Summer II.

Many summer courses and events were proactively scheduled to enhance campus safety and consolidate classes to strategic buildings so that air conditioning levels in other buildings could be reduced earlier in the day.

The university’s next similar energy saving effort is the Winter Holiday Energy Saving Initiative, which has produced more than $2.76 million in savings since 2005.