Nearly every activity on campus relies on the consumption of energy, primarily in the form of purchased electricity or combusted natural gas. The University purchases all of its electricity from Westar Energy, and most of it is distributed through its own electrical grid. The vast majority of electricity is used in campus buildings for lighting, equipment, ventilation, heating, and cooling. Natural gas is used primarily to fuel the power plant that distributes steam to buildings for heating and hot water. Together, these energy sources account for over 87% of the approximately $14 million expended on utilities each year.
Through ongoing leadership and innovation, the University of Kansas strives to develop a sustainable energy system.
Key achievements in working toward this vision, and the corresponding strategy (in parentheses), include:
- The KU Energy Office submits energy audits to the Kansas Department of Administration every five years. The reports are given to the Governor and Legislature for review. (E 1.1.1).
- In 2012, DCM worked with KU Purchasing to establish a number of on-call service contracts to improve procurement efficiency, including one for building commissioning and testing services. These on-call vendors have been engaged in providing commissioning services for a number of new building projects and renovations on campus, as well as retro-commissioning existing buildings. (E 1.1.2).
- The Energy Engineer publishes monthly and annual utility reports. They include energy, cost, and CO2 emissions per building (E 1.1.6).
- Campus Energy Policy was updated in 2014, and 2015 with a larger policy revision and update done in 2016 (E 2.1.1).
- Campus Energy Conservation Standards were created and attached to the Campus Energy Policy update done in 2016. The standards address problematic energy issues (E 2.1.2).
- The Energy Office continues to monitor and adjust HVAC schedules to conserve energy (E 2.2.1).
- The newly created energy.ku.edu website will contain building energy use data but not in real time (E 2.3.1)
- The energy conservation behavior specialist was hired in 2015 and is developing a program to build green teams, launch behavior programs, and educate occupants (E 2.3.2).
- The Lights Out! energy conservation competition in 2012 and 2013 piloted individual and department-wide incentives, including prizes for participating in an energy pledge and a lunch for the winning building (E 2.3.3).
- An Energy Conservation award was created and given at the 2016 Sustainability Leadership Awards (E 2.4.1)
- Participants in Lights Outs! were recognized for their achievements in 2012 and 2013, and a portion of the savings was returned to departments (E 2.4.2)
- Solar panels were placed at the Hall Engineering Research Center in 2013 and on The Forum at Marvin Hall in 2014. Solar panels were also placed on M2SEC, with real-time monitoring of energy generation, as part of a 2015 Westar Energy grant. (E 3.1.2).
- In 2015, the energy technician was hired and is retro-commissioning buildings and assisting in the addition of direct digital controls. The energy technician assists the energy engineer in diagnosing comfort problems in buildings in a manner that does not increase energy use and cost. (E 1.1.2).
- In 2015, a lighting conversion program was started where fluorescent, incandescent, and HID lighting is replaced with LED. This program changes out lamps that have failed with LED. (E 2.2).