December 30, 2013

By Somin Park

On Jan. 1, UC Berkeley will take on a new year’s resolution of sorts as the campus implements a new energy use policy aimed at saving energy and reducing costs for the years to come.

The policy will place expectations for energy use in buildings, develop ambitious energy-efficient renovation projects and encourage energy-wise choices on campus. According to Vice Chancellor for Facilities Services Edward Denton, who announced the new policy earlier this month, it was designed to help UC Berkeley continue its “leadership in climate action” and carbon emissions reduction.

The campus Energy Office, which oversees energy usage on campus, will recommend energy-efficient designs for construction projects and propose ways to create comfortable study spaces without installing mechanical air conditioning.

The policy is part of the larger Energy Management Initiative, one of seven similar programs on campus that make up the cost-cutting initiative Operational Excellence, launched in 2009.

In 2012, the Energy Management Initiative launched its own program to promote efficient energy consumption by offering financial incentives. As outlined in the Energy Incentive Program, campus operating units that use less than an allocated amount of electricity are rewarded incentive payments — this year amounting to $874,000 — while others are charged according to their usage, Denton said.

Under the program, the campus saved a total of more than 8 million kilowatt hours of electricity for fiscal year 2013. The biggest energy saver was the College of Engineering, which saved more than 1.3 million kWh and will receive more than $130,000.

To save energy, the college installed more energy-efficient light fixtures that use less power, occupancy sensors that turn lights off in unoccupied rooms and advanced time controls for fans that usually operate all day.

“We’re delighted and honored to be recognized for our energy-saving efforts,” said Karen Rhodes, executive director of communications at the College of Engineering, in an email. “We hope this incentivizes the rest of the campus.”

To cut costs over winter break, Physical Plant-Campus Services has closed most campus buildings and turned off central heating and ventilation systems between Dec. 24, 2013, and Jan. 1, 2014. According to Christine Shaff, communications director for the campus Facilities Services department, this curtailment period last year saved the campus more than $100,000.

Somin Park is the lead academics and administration reporter. Contact her atsominpark@dailycal.org and follow her on Twitter @_sominpark.

SOURCE: Daily Californinan