Energy is among a university’s most necessary and costly expenses. NC State’s aggressive energy management strategies are designed to minimize costs, save natural resources and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

These conservation strategies are successfully reducing campus energy use while enabling the university to progress toward surpassing state-mandated utility reduction goals. As a publicly-funded institution, NC State is mandated by a 2007 Senate Bill 668 to reduce energy use by 30 percent and water use by 20 percent by 2015. Explore our progress in detail through our Annual Energy and Water Reports from 2016-20172015-20162014-20152013-2014, 2012-2013, 2011-2012, 2010-2011, 2008-2009.


32% Energy Reduction

NC State exceeded its 30% energy use reduction goal, achieving a 32% energy use per gross square foot reduction since 2002.


Managing the consumption of energy on campus can lead to significant cost savings for NC State. Through its Energy Management office, the university manages its own complex network of energy distribution through several steam and utility plants, plus a vast network of steam and chilled water pipelines. The main two energy sources NC State uses are natural gas and electricity. Fuel oil is used to a lesser degree and mostly when the university is asked to avoid use of natural gas during peak demand events, such as winter snow and extreme cold. NC State also has several solar energy sources.

NC State uses many strategies and industry best practices to reduce energy demand, ensure operational excellence and maximize energy savings:

The vast network of campus utilities requires continual maintenance to ensure operational excellence and maximum energy savings.

  • Steam traps devices remove condensate from steam pipes, allowing for more efficient distribution to campus.  The university has a cost-saving Steam Trap Maintenance Program to reduce the trap defect rate and associated energy loss.
  • On a campus with historic buildings and energy-intensive labs, inefficiencies in HVAC systems are bound to occur. Since 2012, NC State’s commissioning team has repaired energy inefficiencies in select buildings, generating more than $1.95 million in energy cost avoidance.
  • Why pay to heat or cool an unoccupied building? NC State sets back the temperature controls in strategic campus buildings during winter holiday break when the university is closed and during summer, when classrooms are unoccupied.
  • Reinvestment legislation passed by the North Carolina General Assembly (House Bill 1292 was ratified and became Session Law 2010-196) allows all University of North Carolina system schools such as NC State to keep 60 percent of savings resulting from energy conservation measures to be used solely for future energy saving measures.
  • Many campus buildings have control systems known as Building Automation Systems (BAS), which create the ability via a computer to schedule and control building temperature set points and schedules based on weather or other needs. Minimizing outside air in the HVAC system saves energy since the air must be conditioned for temperature and moisture control before it can be delivered to an occupied building space.
  • Ultra-low (-80°C) freezers used in research consume vast amounts of energy on campus. Energy Management launched the Ultra-Low (ULT) Freezer Rebate Program in November 2011 to upgrade the university’s climate-controlled laboratory storage by providing cost-share funding to researchers for replacement of old, inefficient freezers with new, energy-efficient equipment.
  • NC State utilizes highly-efficient LED (light-emitting diode) lighting where feasible. From parking decks and new construction to renovations and retrofits, the university is saving energy through this innovative technology.

NC State’s Energy Management uses many strategies and industry best practices to reduce energy demand and costs:

  • Electrical demand-side management saves money by reducing campus energy consumption peak when energy supply is constrained and costs are highest.
  • Energy purchase optimization ensures electricity is supplied at the lowest cost. In some cases innovative, cost-saving arrangements are made with traditional utility companies.
  • Peak shaving reduces energy costs by lowering consumption during the peak time of the day, when electric rates are the highest. Typically during the months of October to April from 11:15 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and from 3:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., peak shaving is conducted when the outside air temperature is the highest during a billing cycle. By decreasing peak demand during these conditions, NC State can save as much as $20,000 to $75,000.

Emerging smart grid technology has the potential to revolutionize the globe’s energy landscape.

Following the completion of Centennial Campus Smart Grid Feasibility Study, a smart grid master plan was developed for Centennial Campus.

A smart grid is the utility distribution system of which smart meters are a key component. These meters are a two-way telecommunication enabled electrical meter that measures utility consumption. NC State’s Energy Management is developing and deploying a long range plan to install smart meters on all NC State buildings, allowing real-time access to energy consumption data that should enable faster identification and resolution of distribution problems. Smart grid technology also enables real-time pricing of utilities based on peak demand; thereby, greatly reducing energy consumption and cost.

Performance contracts are a performance-based procurement method and financial mechanism for building renewal projects whereby the utility bill savings that result from the installation of new building systems pay for the project’s cost. With an established allowable payback period of 20 years and an aggregate principal amount of $100 million available, a “Guaranteed Energy Savings” performance contract (as defined in NC G.S. 143-64.17 legislation) obligates the contractor, a qualified energy services company, to pay the difference if at any time the savings fall short of the guarantee.

  • NC State’s first performance contract was a 13-building, $17 million agreement with Schneider Electric. The project has an 11-year payback with an annual savings of roughly $1.7 million. Buildings include: Caldwell Hall, Carmichael Gym, College of Textiles, Cox Hall, Dabney Hall, McKimmon Center, Monteith Research Center, Monteith Parking Garage, Poe Hall, Research I, Structures Lab, Tompkins Hall and Winston Hall
  • A $61 million contract with Ameresco allows NC State to generate its own power for the first time through the installation of a gas-fed combined heat and power (CHP) system, which should pay for itself in 20 years. This new system at Cates Utility Plant provides 11 megawatts of power to main campus, supplying one-third of main campus demand. The contract also upgrades Yarbrough Utility Plant on campus.



How You Can Help

1. Hit the light switch when you’re the last person to leave a room.
2. Pull the plug on electronics not in use.
3. Shut the fume hood sash in campus labs.



Energy Resources at NC State