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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Energizing…Engage!

The University of Massachusetts Boston received the Project of the Year award from an energy services trade publication, Energy User News for the year 2002. Energy User News annually recognizes innovative new construction across North America that achieves a significant energy savings.

Since the construction of this University in 1974 as an all-electric campus, UMB has been weighed down with its costs. The electricity bills exceeded $5,000,000 in the mid to late 1990s, 6% of the state government’s total electric bill. This is nearly five times greater per square foot (psf) than other Eastern universities. These costs have limited the investment in other aspects of the campus. For example, compared to similar institutions, UMB spent only 2/3 of the cost psf on janitorial services and 1/3 the cost on grounds maintenance.

In 1998, UMB initiated a process to minimize these bills, which has resulted in over $3,000,000 in savings. UMB and the Commonwealth’s Division of Capital Asset Management (DCAM) selected NORESCO to implement a comprehensive effort towards improving energy efficiency and reducing costs. In addition, through University Leaders for a Sustainable Future, UMB signed a Talloires Declaration, a statement of commitment to environmental sustainability in higher education.

NORESCO, an energy services company in Westborough, Massachusetts, was hired recently to assist the UMass Medical center in Worcester, to assess their energy efficiency. Through a 10-year plan, a $30 million project is proposed to save $36 million in utility and operational expenses.

Through an Energy Services Agreement, NORESCO has conducted an energy audit of UMB, implemented the installation of a new energy system, and trained UMB employees to operate the new equipment. Also, they will maintain the new equipment through October 2010, monitor post-installation savings, and have agreed to make up any shortfalls in savings. Installation of the new equipment was completed in October 2002, on schedule.

This project is expected to reduce electricity and water consumption by 50%, reduce energy and water costs by $1.9 million per year, and pay for itself within 6.9 years. Chancellor Gora feels the project “reflects the University’s commitment to a sustainable and just society by reducing greenhouse gas emission, to using our financial resources wisely, while enhancing the comfort [and productivity] of the University.”

The short-term results include a 31% reduction in electric energy, a 3% reduction in total energy, and a 37% reduction in water usage. Also, the project has caused a reduction in emissions of 10,000 tons of carbon dioxide, 97 tons of sulfur oxides, and 27 tons of nitrogen oxides. These results far exceed the goals of the Kyoto Protocol.

The Kyoto Protocol, developed in Japan, is a means to limit greenhouse emissions in developed countries, 7% from the 1990 levels by 2010. President Bush opposes the Kyoto Protocol and in the budget for 2004 has invested $1.7 billion over the next 5 years in the hydrogen fuel initiative. The initiative is an effort to “reverse America’s growing dependence on foreign oil by developing the technology for commercially viable hydrogen-powered fuel cells to power cars, trucks, homes and businesses with no pollution or greenhouse gases.”