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UofL energy audit could save $33 million

July 16th, 2008

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Provost Shirley Willihnganz, speaking, and President James Ramsey, left, made the announcements. Michael Azzara, Siemens Building Technologies, second from right, and Barbara Burns, chair of the UofL Sustainability Council, joined them.

A massive energy audit at the University of Louisville is expected to lead to energy savings of more than $33 million by 2020.

UofL and Siemens Building Technologies, a leading provider of energy and environmental solutions based in Buffalo Grove, Ill., announced July 16 a plan to execute a 12-year contract to help the university trim its energy use through equipment upgrades and better systems for controlling the use of electricity, water and other resources. The audit, now under way, includes nearly 6 million square feet and 84 buildings.

UofL also announced creation of an internal Sustainability Council to provide oversight and direction, coordinate activity and recommend policy.

The two announcements, said UofL President James Ramsey, “are important to the long-term future of the university.”

UofL has the responsibility to be accountable academically, financially, and environmentally, Ramsey said. The agreement with Siemens, he continued, will accomplish all three. It will reduce the university’s carbon footprint, allowing the university to spend less money on energy and to spend more on its academic mission.

“We ought to be doing it whether we’re saving money or not,” he said, because being environmental stewards “is the right thing to do.”

Siemens has pledged to reduce UofL’s $13.8 million annual utility bill by about 30 percent per year.

The university will begin to phase in the company’s audit recommendations next year. UofL will incur no out-of-pocket expenses in the deal since Siemens has agreed to pay the shortfall if the savings fail to cover the cost of making energy-saving improvements.

“The university has made great strides (in environmental initiatives) on this campus, but as a publically funded university, they don’t have all the funding they need to make necessary improvements,” said Michael Azzara, a business development manager for Siemens who is working closely with UofL on the project. The contract with Siemens provides a funding mechanism to do so.

This performance contract is the largest of its kind undertaken in Kentucky, he said.

In a related move, Provost Shirley Willihnganz announced appointment of a council of administrators, faculty, staff and students to tackle university issues related to the environment and sustainability. Barbara Burns, a professor of psychology and brain sciences, will head the group, Willihnganz said.

The group will focus on education, research, operations, administration and finance, including all aspects of the university from student projects to business practices.

Related Link
From the Provost: New council will coordinate our sustainability efforts

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