UC energy savings could eclipse $30M

“I don’t think cloud computing can supplant super computing at this time,” he said.

UC San Diego officials said the campus is on target to surpass university goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 2000 levels by 2014 and further reduce them to 1990 levels by 2020.

The university and its medical center spend about $43 million annually on energy to operate 67 permanent buildings with 13 million total square feet of classrooms, offices, administrative facilities, labs, libraries, and other buildings.

Minimizing energy consumption in those buildings and installing more alternative energy could prove crucial as energy costs are expected to rise 8 percent annually over the next several years.

UC San Diego joins a growing list of campuses designing plans to cut energy costs while higher education funding stagnates during the down economy.

The University of Buffalo’s Center for Computational Research, for example, installed energy-thrifty supercomputer servers last spring and will save $150,000 annually.

Buffalo’s low-voltage servers will save enough electricity to power 110 homes for one year, said Thomas Furlani, director of the Center of Computational Research.

“That makes a pretty compelling case,” he said.

The University of Illinois’s Urbana campus saved $5 million this year when it reduced energy bills by 10 percent–a 10-month effort that focused on more than 40 campus buildings. Programmable temperature controls–complete with occupancy sensors, telling the system when certain rooms are being used–have saved 27 percent in those buildings’ energy costs, according to a university announcement.

Illinois’s Services Department has reported a drop in the number of faculty and student complaints about cooling, heating, and lighting systems in campus buildings.

Colleges’ commitment to efficient energy use has spurred student groups to join the cause. An environmental group from Keene State College in Keene, N.H., posted a YouTube video titled, “Energy Saving Tips–Dorm Heat Moderating,” that details how students can save energy in the winter.

Instead of opening windows while the dorm room heat pumps full blast, the Keene State group encourages students to talk to campus officials about overactive heaters. Dormitory officials can discuss the problem with maintenance workers, who can adjust the heat as needed.


University of California San Diego

University of Buffalo’s Center for Computational Research

Denny Carter

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