college energy efficiency

How College Campuses Can Increase Energy Efficiency

college solar and energy efficiency

Image by Noah Suave via iStock by Getty Images

College campuses are physically widespread and have far-reaching effects on people’s development, serving as a launchpad from adolescence to adulthood for many students. Therefore, they must prioritize energy efficiency. Here are a few ways universities can go green and lower their energy bill simultaneously.

Add Extra Insulation to Buildings

A building with thick insulation in the walls and roof will be more energy efficient than a poorly insulated structure. Even something as simple as adding weather stripping around doors and windows can help maintain the temperature inside a building. This keeps students cool in the summer, warm in the winter and reduces the need to adjust the thermostat.

Switch to Smart LED Bulbs 

Smart bulbs might look like ordinary lights, but they’re much more. They can turn on and off at certain times with a program — which saves energy — and they can also change color automatically.

If programmed to do so, the lights will slowly brighten and get bluer throughout the day, mimicking natural daylight and potentially creating mood-boosting effects. Plus, because LEDs last so long, they don’t have to be replaced as often as incandescent lightbulbs. That’s a win-win.

Update the HVAC System

Old air conditioning and heating systems can become less effective over time. Colleges should consider hiring a maintenance technician to clean, repair or update their HVAC system to increase energy efficiency. Additionally, students and staff will probably be more comfortable if the heating and cooling work properly.

Encourage Alternative Transportation

One way college campuses can increase energy efficiency is by providing alternatives to gas-powered vehicles. The fewer people driving to school, the more energy efficient a campus becomes.

Colleges should encourage students to carpool. They can also create dedicated bike lanes and bike racks so students can easily ride to school and maintain paths so students can walk or use a wheelchair around campus rather than driving from class to class. In larger cities, some campuses even have their own public transportation systems to save energy and help people get where they’re going.

Install Modern Appliances

In dorms, outdated appliances can use much more energy than newer models. Refrigerators made just 10 years ago can be 20% less energy efficient than new ones. Universities should consider replacing old microwaves, ovens and fridges to reduce their overall energy consumption.

Choose White Roofs

If a university is planning to do roof repairs or replacements, they should think about installing white roofs. This applies mainly to campuses located in hot climates.

A white roof reflects up to 90% of sunlight rather than absorbing it like traditional dark-colored shingles. Switching roofs can lower air conditioning costs for campuses in tropical or southern regions, helping to increase their energy efficiency.

Go Solar 

Solar panels generate very few emissions as they generate power, unlike traditional energy from fossil fuels. This is one reason solar power is becoming more popular, especially among people interested in sustainable living and green energy.

Using renewable energy plays a huge part in reducing a university’s carbon footprint. Plus, it will lower their electric bills and might pay for itself over time.

Use Low-Flow Water Fixtures

Instead of guzzling gallons of extra water with every toilet flush, colleges should opt for low-flow fixtures to reduce water usage. Water is a renewable resource, but wastewater has to be filtered and sanitized before it can reenter the water consumption cycle. The process uses energy that could divert elsewhere. 

Universities can also install low-flow sinks in the bathrooms and labs. And — if they maintain a lawn or landscaping around the campus — they should choose low-flow sprinklers to save even more water.

Boosting Energy Efficiency

College campuses can increase energy efficiency in many ways. Simple changes like swapping out incandescent bulbs for LEDs, fixing the HVAC system and making it easier for students to get around campus can go a long way toward the common goal of reducing energy usage.

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