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By Dennis J. Neumann, Public Information Director, United Tribes Technical College (This article appears in the February, 2013 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer and was originally published in the December/January 2013 edition of United Tribes News)

ACUPCC ImplementerUnited Tribes Technical College used National Sustainability Day, October 24, to raise awareness and boost participation in the college’s recycling program. For a number of years campus departments have recycled paper and plastic under the leadership of a small but committed group of faculty members. Two years ago, interest in sustainability grew when United Tribes President David M. Gipp signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC). The document outlines concerns about global climate change and offers methods for higher education institutions to model ways of minimizing the effects, showing leadership and integrating sustainability on campuses around the country. Institutions that sign-on commit their best efforts to pursue climate neutrality: By developing an institutional plan; initiating action to reduce greenhouse gases; and publicly reporting progress reports to the ACUPCC Reporting System.

Green Committee

Spearheading the United Tribes effort is the college’s Green Committee. An informal ‘green committee’ existed on the campus for many years; its dedicated volunteers primarily devoted their labor to campus beautification. Now ‘green’ has a different hue. It’s work is directed from within the Student and Campus Services division and the members are tasked with addressing the substantial challenges associated with the climate commitment. The campus-wide recycling drive is one of their initiatives and is aimed at lowering the campus carbon footprint.

Organized Recycling

UTTC

Pitching in is United Tribes pre-schooler Kiiana Wells, 2, and her mother Shealynn Wells (Blackfeet), a UTTC Nursing student. Both took part in a campus-wide recycling drive October 24 on National Sustainability Day. Led by the campus “Green Committee,” the college is placing more emphasis on recycling as part of its commitment to sustainability.

UTTC’s campus-based population of 1,160 – including college students, staff, and youngsters – is of sufficient size that recycling requires organization and promotion. The October drive was promoted throughout campus with posters and electronic messages with the slogan: “Let’s Fill Our Bins to the Brim!” Participants were encouraged to begin using a regular system for collecting two, common recyclables: paper and plastic. The college would like to recycle as much as possible, including aluminum cans. Members of the Green Committee advised how to prepare and separate recyclables. They set up drop-off locations in main campus buildings where they placed recycling totes. And they invited the more engaged to take their recyclables directly to the large collection bins that were brightly painted with designs and words by youngsters from the college’s elementary school. The event also included a cook-out at the student union and presentations about campus sustainability and the work of the Green Committee.

Work Ahead

Since United Tribes agreed to the climate commitment in 2010, sustainability has taken on new importance in policy and practice. But the challenges associated with incorporating “Green Energy” are considerable. UTTC is located on the site of a former military post. Most of the brick and wood-frame buildings, constructed between 1900 and 1908, are poor examples of energy efficiency. Over the past decade, all remodeling and new construction has incorporated modern efficiencies, like ground-source heating, energy efficient windows and passive solar design. Signing the commitment and establishing the Green Committee, with representation from departments throughout the campus, signals that green energy is a central part of the college administration’s long-term strategic plan to grow the student population and expand the campus with new buildings and infrastructure.

According to Curtis Maynard, Facility Manager, the college is committed to green standards. New campus construction and renovations are planned and built with the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) LEED Silver standard as a guideline. The two most recent examples are a $1.1 million renovation and expansion of the college cafeteria and the $5.5 million construction of a science and technology building on the college’s new, south campus.

Green energy initiatives are moving forward on a number of fronts. The college has adopted an energy-efficient appliance policy, requiring the purchase of ENERGY STAR certified products that have that rating. Family student houses have received new appliances, along with new lighting and other energy efficient changes. A study is underway to compare the energy consumption of houses where retrofitted appliances are in service. Student tenants, and their family members, have been trained to identify good energy usage.

As the college upgrades its aging electrical service by changing-out overhead distribution lines to underground, new gas and electric metering is installed for individual buildings. Unfortunately, service to the original military fort did not include separate metering. Also being added are water meters. This will more closely identify consumption and costs. Staff and students in the college’s Tribal Environmental Science Program used a carbon calculator program to perform energy audits and that will help identify areas for improvement.

In terms of information and education, the college has hosted Sustainability Days and Earth Day observances. Guest experts have presented talks about energy efficient ideas and policies that can be incorporated on campus. The college has encouraged the use of public transportation; there is a city bus system stop a the college’s main entrance.

Clearly the Green Committee understands it has much work to do on sustainability. An important step just ahead is to file the college’s climate action plan with the ACUPCC by January 15, 2013. That planning work is underway now.

For more information about the United Tribes Green Committee and the college’s climate commitment, please contact Curtis Maynard, Facility Manager, S/CS, 701-255-3285 x 1638, cmaynard@uttc.edu.

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By Wendell Brase, Vice Chancellor, University of California, Irvine and Chair, University of California Climate Solutions Steering Group
(This article appears in the January, 2011 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

The ACUPCCWendell Brase

Is your institution lagging compared to colleges and universities you read about when it comes to aggressive energy-saving or renewable energy projects?  (Such projects represent a major fraction of most climate action plans.)  If your energy mix derives primarily from coal or hydro, don’t blame your chief financial officer, who is probably under governing board pressure to maintain fiscal stability despite unprecedented economic conditions.  Suppose that your electricity costs 5 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) and the governing board expects all energy project investments to at least break even.  What can you do?

By contrast, if your electricity costs were nominally 10 cents/kWh and your state has an incentive program that subsidizes energy-retrofit projects, you would probably be installing daylight sensors, “smart lab” controls, constant-volume to variable-volume conversions, “smart” lighting controls and fixtures, and refrigerator and freezer replacements.  But what if your energy cost is 5 cents/kWh and you do not have an incentive rebate program to help underwrite energy projects?

There are energy-retrofit projects that can pay for themselves – that is, yield annual savings that cover borrowing costs – even with 5 cent/kWh electricity.  But first, make certain your assumed energy cost is the time-weighted, marginal cost – not your average cost per kWh.  That is, suppose your institution’s energy bill reflects a 12-month average cost of 5 cents/kWh, but energy-retrofit projects will accrue savings based on the last megawatt-hour purchased.  This latter figure may be closer to 6 or even 7 cents per kWh when time-of-use and demand changes are factored in for the marginal increment that will not be procured due to realized energy savings.

Here is a list of energy-retrofit projects that will usually be cost-effective, recovering their own cost, at an electric cost of 6-7 cents/kWh:
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by Jim Simpson, Director of Higher Education Energy Solutions, Johnson Controls, Inc.
(This article appears in the May, 2010 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

The ACUPCCWhen it comes to sustainability on campus, people can get excited about the technology (solar panels and wind turbines) and the visible efforts (new recycling containers or Earth Day events).  What’s just as exciting – but perhaps not as sexy – is that college and university administrators now have several options to choose from when it comes to financing. They’re using savings from behind the walls to fund technology and visibility projects that attract more attention.

For instance, one of the first campuses to sign the American College & University President’s Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) is the University of Maryland – College Park (UMCP). With an energy bill of more than $50 million per year, climbing utility rates, and growing concerns about effects of greenhouse gas emissions on the environment, UMCP needed a way to combine infrastructure upgrades with energy efficiency and education.

UMCP administrators found millions of dollars in deferred maintenance, and increased electrical and cooling demands exceeded the original design of aging facilities. They were especially concerned about the role of buildings in obtaining accreditation for research facilities and grants. And students had made it clear that sustainability was a priority for them.

Working with Johnson Controls, a global leader in delivering products, services and solutions that increase energy efficiency in buildings, UMCP is addressing large-scale infrastructure improvements and emissions reductions through a variety of financing methods. The project is designed to save the university nearly $30 million in energy costs over 13 years through energy and water efficiency along with renewable energy technologies.

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