Southeastern NEWS Southeastern Louisiana University Public Information Office SLU 10880, Hammond, LA 70402 504-549-2341/fax 504-549-2061 Date: 7/13/01 Contact: Rene Abadie SOUTHEASTERN INSTITUTES ENERGY CONSERVATION MEASURES HAMMOND Southeastern Louisiana University is instituting aggressive energy conservation measures to help stem the rising tide of utility costs. "Just like the average homeowner, the university is facing increased energy costs associated with increases in utility charges and in demand associated with the weather," said Stephen Smith, vice president of administration and finance. Smith said in the fiscal year just concluded, Southeastern's energy bill was $3.4 million, an amount $1,069,000 above the previous year, even though usage did not increase significantly. Last year out of concern about the possibility of rising utility costs, the university commissioned an energy audit. The audit, conducted by Sempra Energy Solutions of Houston, identified various improvements at the university's buildings that could result in significant energy savings. "These improvements range from changing to more efficient lighting fixtures to replacing older air conditioning chillers in some of our buildings," Smith said. "The savings achieved with these improvements will pay a significant amount of the costs associated with implementing them." Last month the Louisiana Board of Regents, the governing board of higher education in the state, adopted a resolution mandating that all universities conduct an energy audit and submit plans for reducing energy costs. The board expressed concern that the rising costs could force universities to close some buildings, curtail hours of operation in libraries and other facilities, and even possibly shorten or eliminate summer school next year. The board released the results of a survey that showed that Louisiana campuses had to absorb an additional $29 million in utilities costs, a 58 percent increase over last year, as a result of dramatic nationwide rate hikes. Natural gas costs rose more than 111 percent while consumption on the campuses increased by only 7.6 percent. Electricity rates jumped 45 percent, yet campus usage was only 11.6 percent higher than the previous year. The increases in energy consumption were attributed to last year's unusually hot summer and cold winter and to a slight expansion of campus facilities. "We're a step ahead in this process, having already conducted our audit and having identified areas where we think we can achieve some considerable savings," Smith said. Smith said the university is also planning to reschedule night classes to achieve maximum efficiency of classroom building use to achieve energy savings. In addition, students will be consolidated into single residence halls during breaks and holidays. Southeastern is not relying solely on consolidation of building usage and technological solutions to its increasing utility costs. Like the average homeowner, simple steps such as turning out unnecessary lighting, turning off air conditioning when not in use, repairing leaky faucets and replacing aging insulation on boiler and steam lines are being adopted campus wide. "We're trying to achieve buy-in from all facets of the university," Smith said. "We don't think of a computer, monitor and printer as using much energy, and by themselves they may not; but multiply that energy usage by the thousands of units on campus and in our large computer labs, and we're now talking about some significant savings. The dollars we save in energy conservation will be better used to maintain the viability of our academic programs." -SLU- .