Saturday, June 22, 2024

Campus energy audit in progress

Plattsburgh State’s campus-wide energy audit is underway as part of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Executive Order 88, which requires a 20 percent improvement in energy performance in all state buildings by 2020.

In order to reach this goal, EO 88 mandates all state buildings larger than 20,000 square feet to undergo an energy efficiency audit annually in order to determine what projects are necessary for improvement. SUNY campuses will be organized by sector, allowing the results of their audits to be easily compared.

Following PSUC’s audit, the information will be compiled into a campus Energy Master Plan that will, among other things, identify which buildings on campus have the worst energy performance.

“The whole study takes about a year,” PSUC Sustainability Coordinator Crystal Price said. “An initial letter report will be written within the first month.”

Many SUNY campuses have chosen the New York Power Authority, the largest state public power organization in the country, to conduct their audit, according to the 2013 SUNY Annual Status Report. However, SUNY schools may contract their own company provided they meet the standards for consultants.

PSUC has chosen Wendel Energy and ESCO Energy Services Company to complete the audit, and representatives will be surveying the heating and cooling systems, lighting and electricity usage in every building on campus.

“It will be a comprehensive audit of every building,” Price said.

Although all recommendations that result from the audit are mandatory, low-cost changes will be made first, Price said. Following those changes, a more specific study will pinpoint other critical areas for improvement.

SUNY campuses are applying for grant funding for 50 percent of the study cost through the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, a public benefit program working to provide funding, increase energy efficiency and create innovative energy solutions in New York state. According to reporting from the Press-Republican, the audit is estimated to cost $400,000.

Noting there has never been an energy audit of this magnitude on the PSUC campus, Price said additional funding would be sought.

“[The audit] is a strong case for us to ask for money from State University Construction Fund,” Price said. “We expect the government to allocate some of these resources.”

The State University Construction Fund is a public benefit corporation founded to support SUNY schools.

Despite the fact that the extensive project is still in its early stages, PSUC junior Dylan Irish said he views the audit as a good step toward reducing unnecessary energy use and improving energy performance, which he sees as a growing issue.

“Energy conservation is important because it saves money and allows the college to expand other areas,” he said. “You have to take that initial first step in order to meet any long-term goal.”

Since EO 88 was implemented in December 2012, over 200 projects seeking to improve energy performance have been initiated on SUNY campuses, according to the 2013 SUNY Annual Status Report. Of these projects, over 90 percent have been completed, accounting for 3.7 percent of the 20 percent reduction goal.

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