Application Story

Jonathan Pollnow, “OSU energy conservation to make wiser use of money.”
The Daily O’Collegian, October 3, 2007

With the cost of energy going up, Oklahoma State University (OSU) students and faculty may be interested in the results of an energy conservation initiative that former OSU President David Schmidly started in January.

The initiative could save the university $22 million during the next seven years, said Gary Shutt, director of OSU communications.

The program is run in partnership with Energy Education Inc. (EEI), a company OSU alumnus William S. Spears founded.

“They will start publishing monthly reports, which will be online so everybody on campus can look and see what the results are, where the savings are," Shutt said.

OSU has put eight energy managers on staff to implement the program. It is run from the OSU Physical Plant in Stillwater. Five of the energy managers are working with the Stillwater campus, while the three others are working with the OSU campuses in Tulsa, Okmulgee, and Oklahoma City.

"The web site will feature detailed energy usage statistics broken down on a per-building basis," said Garrett Self, energy account manager for the OSU system and a vice president of EEI.

"The data will include energy cost per square foot or consumption per square foot," Self said.

OSU is the first higher education institution to use EEI’s services, Shutt said. “They’ve worked with schools, churches, and other organizations across the country to reduce energy costs,” he added.

Shutt said most of the savings will be in things we don’t see.

“One of the things all of us are working on right now is the HVAC schedules – the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems – in every building,” said Jenny Gililland, an energy manager.

Gililland said they are looking at class and work schedules, as well as coordinating the times.

“So we can turn it off at six p.m. and turn it back on at six in the morning, instead of twleve hours of AC,” she said.

“When we first started in June, there were a lot of buildings on campus running 24/7 with very few people in them,” Gililland said. “That’s not a very good use of the taxpayers’ money; that is not a very good use of the students’ tuition money.”

Energy managers are using other methods and tools to increase efficiency.

Gililland said they are using tools to measure temperature, light, and humidity levels so they can have precise measurements on which to measure progress. One of the tools, called a HOBO data logger, could be placed in unusual areas and looks vaguely like a detonator for a bomb. She said not to be alarmed at this, though.

Self said going to a Monday through Thursday class schedule could lead to cost savings from three-day weekends. “It is a tremendous savings opportunity,” Self said.

Self said another effect on energy savings could be from educating people to conserve energy by turning off their lights and putting their computers into sleep mode, to name a few.

Shutt said, “For this to be successful, everybody on campus has to participate and help and do what we can.”

Self said we are seeing the country increasingly going green. ‘It’s really going to be at the forefront in the coming years,” he said.

Self said the first reports should appear on the web site by mid-November. The information on the site details what else is being done to lower energy costs.