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Energy efficiency programs save UC $21 million per year

UC has won national praise for its 50 LEED-certified facilities, the most of any U.S. university. Many are considered shining examples of the latest in energy-efficient technology.

But most UC campus buildings were constructed long before LEED green standards and conservation took hold. Making those more efficient entails doing much more low-profile things — like fixing leaky steam pipes, making sure air conditioning doesn’t run in the winter and swapping incandescent bulbs for the latest in lighting technology.

Since January 2009, the 10 UC campuses have initiated some 400 projects to improve the efficiency of buildings, in some cases using technology developed by UC researchers. Their goal: Cut energy use, costs and emissions to year 2000 levels by 2014.

The results so far have saved campuses more than $21 million annually compared to what they otherwise would have paid for energy. For a system that uses about 250 megawatts of power a year, about the same as a medium size city, the impact of all the discrete fixes adds up.

“We were doing energy efficiency over years and have never stopped doing it,” said John Dilliott, campus energy manager at UC San Diego. “The huge effort to do it at all campuses, all at once, has made it a big push, as well to get everything done in next few years (to meet greenhouse gas emission goals).”

Spurring this collective drive is the UC system’s Strategic Energy Plan, implemented in 2008, which identified 2,700 potential projects, of which 900 were found most viable financially. The cost of these projects was estimated at $250 million, yielding an expected $40 million annually in avoided energy costs when they are completed.

See Harry Mok’s complete story on the UC Newsroom website at

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