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Texas A&M Cuts Normalized Energy 40% Over 10 Years

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.

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7 thoughts on “Texas A&M Cuts Normalized Energy 40% Over 10 Years

  1. Investments of over $300 million. Not included in savings claim. Actual savings still decades away from reality.

    Savings claim disingeious to say the least.

  2. Bob’s reading of the article is faulty to say the least.
    Most egregiously, Bob states “Actual savings still decades away from reality”. But the savings mentioned in the article have already been realized. The very first sentence says it: “cut its normalized energy consumption 40 percent and saved $140 million over the last 10 years” (emphasis mine).
    Also, nowhere does the article mention $300 million in investment associated with the savings. Regardless of Bob’s comment.

  3. Doug. Don’t ne so naive. Don’t be so lazy.

    Whenever someone makes outrageous savings claims as this, do your research. A&M’s website identifies over $300 million spent. I’m sure there is many millions more buried in building construction costs. All good for efficiency but must also be included in any savings claims. NET savings. Clearly decades away for A&M, if ever.

  4. Bob,
    Until you provide evidence backing up your claims, I consider them to be unfounded personal opinions. I stand by my statement that the article only talks about savings that have already been realized. And it makes no mention of a $300 million investment to achieve those savings.
    Note that you will have to do more than simply find $300 million in recent spendings to back up your story. You will have to provide evidence that the $300 million was directly and soley spent on the energy efficiency investments.
    I await your posting of the evidence.

  5. OK, Bob, maybe I won’t wait for you. Here is evidence in partial refutation of your claims, from https://utilities.tamu.edu/utility-and-energy-system-improvements/.
    Among other things, this webpage documents
    1) 35% reduction in energy consumption per gross square foot over the last 8 years
    2) $105 million in energy cost avoidance over the last 8 years
    3) 25% reduction in domestic water consumption over the last 8 years
    4) Upgraded Combined Heat and Power (CHP) Generation costing $73.25 million
    5) $10 million DOE grant awarded to TAMU (presumably used for energy efficiency upgrades, but the website doesn’t say)
    6) Utility infrastructure capacity, reliability and efficiency upgrades since 2002 costing $200 million
    Before you get too excited about #6, much of that money simply went to expansion of existing utility connections, additional chiller and boiler capacities, etc.; in support of a large building square footage expansion (to the tune of 3.5 million gross square feet). Some cost went towards efficiency improvements of existing utility infrastructure – but again the website doesn’t specify a breakdown. The money going towards efficiency improvements might or might not have been a significant fraction of the $200 million. But surely 3.5 million additional square feet must incur substantial fractions of that money simply to support the infrastructure capacity additions.
    So now, Bob, where is your evidence?

  6. Hello, this is Jim Riley,exec director for utilities & energy at Texas A&M University. Energy consumption reduction of 41 percent per SF and $140 million in cost avoidance over the last ten years is well documented, with additional reduction targeted through FY17. Not sure where the reference to $300 million originated, but TAMU has invested $200 million in utility/energy infrastructure over the same ten years to replace aging equipment and meet demands of campus that increased from 18.5 to 24 million GSF. See our Energy Action Plan (EAP) 2015 summary on website at utilities.tamu.edu to learn more about comprehensive energy program. Best regards.

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