Campus Energy Management Plan

The 2015 Campus Energy Management Plan is guided by the overarching goals and objectives in the Board of Regents Strategic Planning Framework. It states: The University of Nebraska will be cost effective and accountable to the citizens of the state. The goal was expanded to emphasize that efficiencies in design and operation are demanded in every building, design and renovation project, and commits to sustainable construction and operation methods that save building and energy cost.

Achieving the sustainable goal

UNL's Campus Energy Management Plan 2010 set forth a goal of reducing energy consumption in state-funded buildings on City and East Campuses by at least 15 percent within five years. The plan was to reduce energy use by three percent each year from 2011 to 2015 to meet the 15 percent goal. Actual reduction over those years was 12.9% despite the increase in student and faculty populations and research funding.

The Strategic Approach

Several concurrent energy conservation strategies have been implemented to work toward the stated reduction goal. These encompass the functional areas of: existing buildings, new construction and renovations, utility plants, energy data collection and analysis, communication, energy project processes, and energy information systems.

In existing campus buildings, energy use reduction strategies were:

  • reducing the operating hours of A/C equipment through both scheduling and occupancy sensors;
  • reducing the wasted energy from, and improving efficiency of fume hoods;
  • expanding our control systems to only provide as much heating, cooling, and ventilation as needed to meet the room loads;
  • and replacing lights with more efficient lighting fixtures.

On East Campus, a Thermal Energy Storage facility was constructed to reduce the energy needed for campus cooling. It displaces the timing of when chilled water is needed during the daytime to when chilled water can be produced most efficiently. A similar but larger facility will be built near the city campus vicinity to provide energy savings to the city campus.

Read more about the Thermal Energy Storage facility on the Utility-Services website.

East Campus Thermal Energy Storage tank
East Campus Thermal Energy Storage tank

On the Nebraska Innovation Campus, UNL and the City of Lincoln have partnered to heat and cool Nebraska Innovation Campus (NIC) through a unique central renewable energy system (CRES). CRES was designed with the help of UNL engineers. It uses reclaimed, non-drinkable water from the Theresa Street Water Treatment Plant in its heat exchanger facility. This closed-loop system is an innovative, environmentally friendly method of heating and cooling a campus that seeks to foster similar innovations through research partnerships. The system has the capacity to serve up to 1.8 million square feet of NIC building space. Read more about the Thermal Energy Storage facility on the Utility-Services website.

NIC CRES Heat Exchangers
CRES Heat Exchangers
An Ongoing Effort

UNL will continue to identify energy savings projects. Some of the initiatives that are being planned are: conversion of fluorescent lights to LED lights, a Thermal Energy Storage facility for City Campus, peer-to-peer sustainability education. The goal is to reduce the energy intensity and carbon footprint of our campus.

Read the Daily Nebraskan article about UNL's efforts to cut energy use here