Texas A&M University cut its normalized energy consumption 40 percent and saved $140 million over the last 10 years as a result of environmental initiatives that have also improved the school’s recycling rate and reduced its water use.
From fiscal year 2002 to FY 2012 the size of the university’s main campus increased by 25 percent, to nearly 24 million gross square feet, while real energy consumption decreased by 25 percent – resulting in the 40 percent improvement per gross square foot.
In 2012 alone, the university cut its absolute energy use by 7 percent and by 9 percent on a per-square-foot basis. These reductions saved the university $6 million in 2012. An additional $6 million annual cost reduction for purchased energy is projected for the upcoming fiscal year 2014, resulting from a combination of energy consumption reduction and lower energy market pricing, the university says.
Specific initiatives that the university has enacted include a combined heat and power system completed in 2012, requiring one-third less fuel than a typical off-campus power plant with similar output. The CHP system won the school a 2013 Energy Star CHP Award from the EPA.
Water consumption on campus has dropped 30 percent since 2000 while the square footage of facilities served has increased by close to 30 percent over the same period. The school says that more efficient operation of utility plants, more effective water distribution system management, installation of water-saving plumbing fixtures and improved irrigation management have all contributed to this success.
Prior to 2010, the amount of solid waste that the university recycled was consistently less than 10 percent of its total solid waste tonnage. However, in the last three years, the diversion rate of solid waste being recycled, rather than being transported to and dumped in the landfill, increased to 50 percent in FY 2011 and a record 64 percent in FY 2012.
A $45 million capital plan to support utility production upgrades in the four campus utilities plants has been authorized at Texas A&M, with the first phase of that capital plan being a $15.4 million production upgrade currently in design phase. The engineering firm Burns & McDonnell has been hired to complete a detailed design for this project, with construction scheduled to begin this fall and finish in fall 2014.
In 2010, Texas A&M released details of its energy saving initiatives including the Aggie Green Fund – a five-year program that raises $300,000 every year by charging each student $3 per semester to raise funds for campus sustainability initiatives generated by the students and faculty.