Five tips to help your campus sustainability program make the grade

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While I considered a long list of criteria when I chose a college for undergrad, sustainability was never a factor. Twenty years ago, I was worried about campus safety, available majors, and opportunities to broaden my cultural horizons. Today, students are considering so much more. This is not surprising, since college campuses are becoming working laboratories for green building practices.

However, most campuses are made up of older buildings, so the focus for most energy and facility managers is on maintaining and improving what already exists. If you are developing a back-to-school plan for your college campus, here are five tips to help you make the grade:

1. Understand the Grading System:
Campuses are often in the public eye. Chances are you have a series of Key Performance Indicators around energy usage. Choose the most important changes you need to make based on these indicators and ensure you have the tools to create reports on your progress.
2. Fill your metering backpack:
Every task requires tools. In a previous blog post, I shared an overview of the types of meters you might want in your metering backpack. Knowing how your buildings use energy is the first step in your sustainability program.
3. Find a study group:
Installing the perfect energy management system will mean very little if you cannot change behavior. Engage the students using data and dashboards to encourage a little friendly competition. Can the student center reduce energy use by 10%? Which floor in the dorm uses the least energy?
4. Figure out tuition:
Some upgrades will be more expensive than others. If you are measuring energy savings, you may be able to justify these projects with the money you save on your electric bill.
5. Avoid procrastination:
Sure, you could put off studying or wait until the last minute to complete a project, but you are more likely to find success if you plan ahead. In your sustainability program, use tools to plan for preventative maintenance and improvement of day-to-day operations.

As with any curriculum, Power and Energy Management requires time and attention, but with a little knowledge and persistence, you can earn top marks with your campus sustainability program. With a consistent need for meter monitoring, dashboards, and reports, an embedded Power and Energy Management System (ePEMS) can help you to pull your needs together into one single plan of action.

What challenges are you facing in your back-to-school energy management plan? Send me a message in the comments below. I would love to hear from you.

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