Summer power down results in nearly $1 million in savings

Facilities Management officials are excited that university-wide energy conservation efforts this summer resulted in utility bill savings to the tune of $900,000.

“Many of my colleagues at other universities want to learn from Western, so they too can reduce their peaks and empower their communities,” said Paul Martin, Facilities Management director. “In a volatile economy, and with public funding uncertainties, savings of this kind are particularly welcome.”

The savings roll into Western’s operating budget, Martin said.

Starting in June, Facilities Management sought to reduce energy consumption in as many buildings as possible. Strategies included reducing chiller load on days that were projected to be ‘peak’ based on the day’s weather conditions. Experts in the division were able to further target the peak usage to within four hours of the business day. A rotating reduction of fans and chillers began at 2 p.m. on select days and returned to normal operations by 6 p.m.

Western was the only university to hit all five of Ontario’s peak consumption times, according to the Independent Electricity System Operator, a non-profit corporate entity established to govern the day-to-day energy demands of the province.

“Facilities Management serves as stewards to the resources of Western’s built environment, including utilities. Making sound financial decisions is expected,” said Roy Langille, Facilities Management associate vice-president. “If we didn’t react to the growing energy fees, we’d be leaving money on the table and that would be a disservice to the university.”

Last year, Western spent more than $16 million on energy. Of that total, $6.5 million – about 40 per cent – went toward the university’s contribution to the Global Adjustment (GA). The GA is a fee assessed on ‘Class A’ customers, such as Western, with an average electricity peak demand over 5 mega watts. The fee is determined based on the amount of energy Western uses during five peak energy times as a percentage of Ontario’s total energy usage during those times.

Langille credits the combination of adjusting automated cooling systems and the commitment by end users on campus for Western’s success this year.

“We did well being mindful of our energy consumption this summer and everyone should be commended,” said Langille. “The next step is to continue to view energy reduction measures as an ongoing effort.”