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Letter to Campus Community From Robert L. Fenning, Vice President for Administration & Finance

President Broderick has shared a number of your excellent potential cost-saving ideas with me. In particular, many of your suggestions are opportunities to reduce our energy use through the implementation of measures such as powering down our work stations, turning off all unnecessary lights, increasing the number of water saving devices such as low-flow toilets, and other energy conservation measures. Every dollar we can save in utility costs is a dollar we can spend on programs or services.

I am soliciting your support of these proposed energy conservation measures, for there is no better time for us to implement them. Over the past two (2) years we have improved the energy efficiency of our buildings through an energy performance contractor. Older buildings on campus have had the lighting upgraded to be more efficient and bathrooms outfitted with low-flow toilets that reduce water consumption. With the recent 33% increase of our electric rates in July, the timing was perfect. The resulting annual savings are about $500,000; but, as you all know, the campus continues to grow. Current total utility costs exceed $7 million each year, and we need to find more savings.

We have achieved the "easiest" savings through our performance contract; additional savings will require everyone's help. Here are some things I am asking everyone to do: shut off all lights and electronic equipment in our offices at the end of each day. Faculty members please make sure that, when you leave your classroom, the lights are shut off, unless there is a class immediately following yours. Or if every individual would shut off their computers each day, the annual savings are estimated to be about $70,000. However, it requires every person to participate. Shutting off lights when not needed across campus could save an additional $25,000 or more. Several of you have suggested occupancy sensors. Facilities Management is evaluating that suggestion to see what the installation costs are and what savings we could achieve. We will install sensors where it pays.

Building temperature is an area we are carefully reviewing. For winter months, temperatures will be set at 68F, so you should plan on wearing a sweater in the office or classroom to stay comfortable. A really important rule is no portable space heaters are to be used! I appreciate your cooperation in eliminating this waste of electricity.

Some of you have said your building is cold in the summer and have asked, "Couldn't we save money by raising the temperature?" The answer is, "Not always." In order to achieve optimum building temperature and humidity control, the cooling system supply air flow is set at 55F. This optimizes de-humidification and system efficiency. With building design requiring a minimum air flow, this means some rooms may be in the upper 60'sF range when there is little or no heat load (i.e., people, computers, etc.). In order to increase the building temperature, the heating system must be used to warm the spaces, and that costs more money.

So, even in the summer, wearing a sweater may be necessary.

We are also seeking ways to encourage our students to be more environmentally sensitive and to put into practice the concepts of "sustainability". Please consider what you can do in your classes, departments, student organizations, etc. that would help raise the awareness that energy conservation is everyone's job. If you have other suggestions, please let me know. Dillard George, Director of Facilities Management, will be providing us more information of how we are progressing with our energy conservation efforts. I look forward to sharing this with you periodically. Achieving a more sustainable campus and saving limited financial resources requires everyone to do their part.

Thank you.


Robert L. Fenning

Vice President for Administration & Finance

This article was posted on: November 3, 2008

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Telephone: 757-683-3114

Old Dominion University is an equal opportunity, affirmative action institution.