The U.S. is the world’s second largest consumer of energy, despite make up only about 4.4 percent of the population. Why does this matter? Because wasting energy is expensive, and it’s not good for the environment. According to the EPA, energy production—much of which is generated from non-renewable fossil fuels—and use is the single largest contributor to climate change, accounting for more than 84 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.
Between 2005 and 2015, the University of Mississippi reduced energy consumption by 22 percent. The university’s new goal is to reduce an additional 10 percent of energy use by the end of fiscal year 2026. As the university continues to grow, designing energy efficient buildings, updating infrastructure and planning for responsible use of resources is a priority among campus planner and administrators.
The Office of Sustainability is involved in UM’s Energy Committee and related projects as well as behavior change and educational outreach efforts among students. In addition to the projects and policies listed below, Facilities Management regularly monitors energy use and performs infrastructure upgrades.
UM Energy Committee
The UM Energy Committee continues to explore strategies for increasing energy productivity on campus and decreasing the university’s carbon footprint. The committee convenes three to four times annually on topics ranging from campus energy use trends and data to future project and policy recommendations.
Energy Committee members are: Ian Banner (committee chair), University Architect, Facilities Planning and Office of Sustainability; Lindsey Abernathy, Office of Sustainability; John Adrian, Provost’s Office; Darien Dye, Student Housing; Del Hawley, School of Business Administration; Robert Martin, energy coordinator; Cris Surbeck, School of Engineering; Joe Swingle, Athletics Facilities
Rebel Energy Challenge
The Rebel Energy Challenge is a competition led by the Eco Rep program among residence halls to reduce their energy consumption. The participants in the Rebel Energy Challenge sign pledges to lower their energy consumption and swap incandescent bulbs for energy-efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs. Residence Hall 1 was the winner of the challenge in 2018, while Luckyday Residential College won the challenge in 2017.
TVA Energy Efficiency Grant
In April 2017, the university celebrated the culmination of a three-year grant program with the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). Through the grant program, the university created the UM Energy Committee and the UM Energy Plan. The university invested $441,000 in energy-savings projects and received $100,000 from TVA. Projects included installing LED lighting across campus and making other energy-efficient upgrades. Through the implementation of these projects the university will save $217,000 and 2.7 million kilowatt hours annually—savings equivalent to the total energy consumed by 200 homes for one year. To commemorate the completion of the grant, the university hosted an Energy Efficiency Celebration.
Renewable Energy Certificates
In spring 2017, UM purchased 3,835 renewable energy certificates, offsetting 3 percent of institution-wide electricity use from fiscal year 2016. The purchase, which came about as a recommendation from the UM Energy Committee, allows the university to lower its carbon footprint, support the development of renewable energy technologies and practice resource stewardship. It is estimated that UM’s purchase has an environmental impact similar to growing 69,848 trees per year for 10 years of not using 6,240 barrels of oil.
Energy Related Policies
Energy Management Policy
The energy management policy states that, “faced with rising utility costs, increasing demands on university infrastructure, and budget constraints, it is necessary that a proactive energy plan be adopted…” The policy outlines several energy reduction strategies, and asks that all UM employees familiarize themselves with the behavior-related tactics, which include turning off office equipment in the evening and using power saving modes, utilizing daylighting instead of overhead lighting when comfortable and feasible, and taking the stairs instead of the elevator if a person is able. Read the full policy here.
Energy Star Purchasing Policy
The Energy Star purchasing policy states that “university departments are encouraged to seek out and purchase Energy Star products whenever possible or feasible.” Energy Star products are independently certified for energy efficiency and are marked with the Energy Star logo. Products range from offices supplies like computers, monitors and data storage devices to appliances, building products and lighting. Read the full policy here.