How Are Energy Incentive Program Payments Being Used?

December 9, 2014

UC Berkeley’s Energy Incentive Program (EIP) is a key part of the Energy Management Initiative. Prior to the EIP, campus Operating Units (OUs) had no direct financial incentive to implement energy-saving measures. The EIP established a baseline for each building based on 2010-2011 electricity use.  Units that are below their baseline receive payments, while OUs which exceed their baseline will be asked to pay the difference. Now, thanks to the EIP, campus OUs have a significant incentive to reduce energy use.

Last year, OUs received $870,000 in incentive payments, representing a 1,500 ton reduction in greenhouse gases. OUs are able to choose how to use these payments, and as 2014 comes to a close, it is interesting to consider some examples of how departments have used the payments.

The College of Chemistry spent its funds on repainting buildings that needed repair and on new exit signs. Letters and Science (L&S) Biological Sciences is planning on using part of its payment to paint the Valley Life Sciences Building, the Life Sciences Addition, and Koshland and Barker Halls. It is planning on using the remainder of the payment on emergency egress lighting in Koshland Hall, hydration stations, safety latch retrofits for cold rooms, safety entry mats, ergonomic chairs, and better desks in numerous buildings.

The College of Engineering (COE) allotted half of its incentives to COE building managers to have them improve their energy performance, while the other half was kept at the Dean’s level to carry out projects in buildings. This innovative way to use the payments allows the investment decisions to be made by individual building managers instead of retaining all of the funds centrally. This way, building managers can target areas they know need funding and improve building conditions. For example, one project being considered is installing new controls on an auditorium fan, so that it goes off when vacancy is detected.

Administration and Finance (A&F) also came up with a creative way to use the funds.  Individual A&F staff applied for grants to have their energy efficiency projects, such as replacing old appliances with newer energy efficient models, funded.

While the ways departments have used their payments have varied widely, the EIP funds are clearly going to good use. Additionally, this year, the EIP will return nearly $1 million to campus units in incentive payments. No OUs were assessed overage charges, as all were under their baselines. The EIP, combined with building occupants’ commitment to saving energy, has not only helped reduce UC Berkeley’s carbon footprint but also has enabled the campus to waste less money on energy and spend more on beneficial projects and programs. For a full list of last year’s payments by Operating Unit, please click here.