November 16, 2010

New Facilities Initiative Aims to Save Money Through Energy Efficiency

Print More

An initiative undertaken by the Administrative Streamlining Program plans to save the University up to $16 million by June 2014 through improvements implemented in the campus’ facilities department. The proposal, headed by Vice President for Facilities Services Kyu-Jung Whang, will focus on eight specific projects, many of which involve improving energy efficiency in buildings.

This is the second of ten programs in an overall effort to save Cornell at least $75 million by 2015.

The facilities department will seek help from staff and faculty in the department’s efforts to conserve energy. Students also will play a role in this aim for energy preservation.

“We are working closely with the students of Cornell to conserve energy on campus; we have a large student backing with this plan,” Whang said. He added that students aiding in the conservation efforts have helped in planning the sustainable campus initiative.

A pilot campaign began earlier this month in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences to monitor the effectiveness of conservation efforts over the course of one year. In partnership with the Office of Energy and Sustainability, CALS aims not only to reduce energy use in their buildings, but also to educate staff, faculty and students regarding proper ways to save energy in buildings, according to Lauren Chambliss, assistant director of the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station.

Conservation methods are provided through CALS Green, a project launched by CALS administration, faculty and University operations that provides informational tools regarding methods of energy conservation through internet resources.

“Individuals can easily figure out what they can do to reduce their own energy use, in the context of their own workspace,” Chambliss said.

A “biggest loser”-style competition is used to motivate faculty and staff, where the building with the largest reduction in energy use and the most staff participation wins.

The competition will use StepGreen — a self-reporting online resource developed by researchers at Cornell and Carnegie Mellon University — to track progress on an individual and building-to-building basis.

The buildings involved in this program include the Plant Sciences Building, Wing Hall, Morrison Hall, Bradfield Hall, Comstock Hall and the Barton Lab in Geneva, N.Y. These buildings are all considered “mix-use” buildings, as they include both lab and office spaces.

The initiative will also decrease the amount of construction on campus. Facilities will depend more on the cost effectiveness of maintenance for Cornell’s already existing buildings. While the state-funded buildings on campus will continue to see funding for construction projects through the State University Construction Fund, the privately-endowed side of Cornell will see a decrease in the allotment of new construction projects due to a construction pause instated by President Skorton in the spring of 2009.

Regarding the endowed buildings, “only projects that are the most critical in nature and have full funding identified are allowed to go ahead,” Whang said. He added that the state-funded buildings would continue to see funding from the SUCF in an effort to stimulate the economy.

The construction projects already in progress do not have any effect on the facilities program, Whang said, noting they had been on-going for several years prior to the commencement of this effort.

The ASP, created in response to the campus effort Reimagining Cornell, stands to “create a more lean university while retaining academic excellence.”

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that Lauren Chambliss was assistant director of the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, NY. She is, in fact, assistant director of the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station in Ithaca, NY. The Sun regrets this error.

Original Author: Hermela Nadew