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“We cut energy use at 522 Fifth Ave by 18% in one year.” – Hines Property Management

Categories: Lighting, Lodging, Off-hours

SUNY- State University System of New York

SUNY- State University System of New York

While the calendar reads 2011 at the University at Buffalo, the electricity meters spin like it is 1998.  That’s because even though the campus has added more than one million square feet of building space, energy efficiency efforts have kept energy consumption at or below 1998 levels.

Starting in the early 1990’s, several SUNY campuses including the University at Buffalo and Stony Brook University started aggressively using NYSERDA, NYPA and local utility programs and incentives to tackle what came to be considered “the low hanging fruit” of energy waste reduction, explained Joe Fox, Director of Energy Planning & Management, State University New York (SUNY).

Much of this first wave of energy efficiency improvements focused on lighting and HVAC system operations.

In 2006, the University at Buffalo consolidated three small stand-alone cooling systems into one centralized system.  According to John Russo, Utilities Manager, “The results were better than expected as campus wide peak demand has been lowered, system maintenance costs have decreased and redundancy was improved.  As another unexpected benefit, the operating efficiency of the upgraded centralized system also provided excess capacity for growth.”

More recently, SUNY campuses have seen a second wave of energy efficiency programs aimed at reducing consumption, by identifying what needs to be on when and tightening controls over the systems and equipment that keep work and living spaces lit and comfortable.  For example, at Stony Brook University, the campus is adding control systems and using occupancy sensors to automatically turn lights in corridors and public spaces on and off. 

“The technology for sensors is so much better now than when we tried to use this years ago.  It is a big driver for energy savings,” explains Amy Provenzano, Executive Director of Environmental Stewardship at Stony Brook University.

While scale may be different, the measures taken by SUNY campuses translate throughout New York.   As Russo sees it, “Many of our buildings are 20 - 40 years old. The lighting and HVAC work that has saved so much on campus are applicable to most similarly aged buildings across the state. Buildings that aren’t taking these steps are simply throwing money away.”

New York businesses interested in taking similar steps can receive utility [link to EEPS locator tool] and NYSERDA Existing Facilities Program or Energy Audit Program incentives.  

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