UMM Reduces Carbon Emissions by 44% in Seven Years
A graph showing the reduction in metric tons of carbon dioxide
equivalent (MTDCE) on the UMM campus since 2006.
MACHIAS, Maine – The University of Maine at Machias’ commitment to being a more energy efficient campus has had a positive impact on its carbon footprint over the past seven years. A recent report by the University of Maine System shows that UMM reduced its greenhouse gas emissions from heating and electricity by 44% between 2006 and 2012, the largest reduction among the seven UMS campuses over the same period.
The University’s carbon footprint, the amount of carbon dioxide emissions that are released into the atmosphere as a result of energy consumed, has been reduced by UMM’s commitment to energy conservation and efficiency upgrades.
The UMS emissions report doesn’t factor in fleet fuel, refrigerants, agriculture, employee and student commuting, air travel, and solid waste—measurements that are reported to the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) for UMM’s greenhouse gas inventory.
Chad Everett, UMM’s sustainability coordinator, says that targeted renovations, education, and control measures are the biggest contributors to the steep reduction in campus emissions. It also helps that New England experienced a relatively mild winter in 2011-12, reducing the heating needs of the campus.
“We’ve invested a lot in simply tightening up our buildings, replacing inefficient boilers, and installing smart controls to maximize the efficiency of our systems,” said Everett. “Those improvements have made a big difference.”
Campus-wide oil consumption was reduced by 48% over the seven-year period, from 170,147 gallons in 2006 to 87,755 gallons in 2012. Electricity use dropped by 11%, resulting in fewer upstream emissions from utility production, and the campus saw a 26% reduction in water use.
A series of four energy-efficient System 2000 boilers were installed
in the Reynolds Center.
During the summer of 2011, UMM focused on two main facilities for energy upgrades: Kilburn Commons and the Reynolds Center, one of the largest buildings on campus. According to the recent figures, those upgrades are having a big impact on the school’s carbon footprint.
Kilburn Commons was outfitted with energy-efficient windows, insulation, a ventilation system to minimize heat loss from the building’s entrance, and high-efficiency boilers to replace the oil fired steam boiler that was also powering the facility’s cooking equipment. The kitchen’s ovens and grills are now heated with propane, a cleaner alternative to oil.
The decrease in heating oil consumption at Kilburn Commons was well over school officials’ original estimate of 25%. During fiscal year 2011, Kilburn Commons consumed 14,340 gallons of oil compared to 4,562 gallons in fiscal year 2012, a 68% reduction. Electricity use in Kilburn Commons dropped by 10% after the renovations, and replacing the dining facility’s old steam boiler also reduced water use by 66% during the year following the upgrade.
At the Reynolds Center, home to a gymnasium, fitness center, and competition-size heated pool, a series of four high-efficiency boilers and a heating management system were added to control heat and hot water at the facility. The pool’s heater was also switched from oil to propane during the renovations. During the year following the upgrades, oil consumption dropped by 53% and electricity use was reduced by 5%.
Variable-speed pumps in Kilburn Commons control the flow of hot
water to satisfy the building's heating needs.
In other buildings, the University has invested in smart systems to save energy and improve comfort. Some buildings have multiple sensors that set the room temperature based on an average temperature instead of using a single thermostat. Occupancy sensors have been added to classrooms and other spaces that turn the lights off when motion is not detected for an extended period of time. The University has also installed variable-speed pumps on several boilers to increase efficiency when there is less demand for heat.
Educating the campus is something Everett would like to focus on moving forward. He would like to see a greater emphasis on sustainability and energy conservation during new student orientation, sharing energy-saving tips with the campus community, and informing the occupants of each building about how they are performing in terms of efficiency and reducing UMM’s greenhouse gas emissions.
In addition to education, Everett says that next steps may include the conversion of fluorescent lighting to LED, as fixtures need to be replaced around the campus. The University is also exploring alternative fuel sources for its heating needs.
In its Climate Action Plan, UMM has a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 20% by 2020, and 80% by 2050 from its baseline 2008 ACUPCC greenhouse gas inventory. The recent system-wide report indicates that the campus is off to a great start, already surpassing its 2020 goal.
“We’ve just scratched the surface on what can be done here,” said Everett. “Through education, conservation, and strategic upgrades, we can continue to reduce UMM’s impact on the environment.”