CHAPEL HILL – The UNC Board of Governors is working to cut energy and water costs for the schools to make a more efficient system and President Tom Ross says the schools are making small changes to save big.
“You may recall that our strategic plan identifies some key areas of work, like including energy-related research, analysis, instruction, and outreach, where with targeted investments UNC, we believe, can make a real and meaningful difference,” Ross says.
The UNC system averages $225 million per year on energy and water costs. Since last year the university system has saved $63 million in energy costs and $13.7 million in water costs. Since the 2002-2003 school year the total equals $297 million in savings.
System wide, the schools have managed to cut electricity by 20 percent and water by 40 percent, and President Ross says there are more plans to continue making the University more efficient.
“To date, this board has authorized 15 guaranteed energy performance projects across the system,” Ross says. “Ten of these projects are currently under contract producing energy savings of more than $10 million per year.”
Current energy sources can be costly in terms of money and for the environment. The UNC system has often been at the forefront of innovation and new ideas, and energy is no different. Ross says that UNC will stay at the forefront when dealing with energy and water to improve the system.
“Recognizing that most sources of easily accessible energy are limited and that many are non-renewable, the plan calls for UNC to be in the forefront, in collaboration with private industry and non-profit organizations and making discoveries that will fuel our state and the world in the future,” Ross says.
The University schools have worked to reduce costs of energy and water by substantial amounts. However, Ross says that they will continue to work and cut costs for expenses like water and energy.
“But we know we can do more, and we have as a collective goal in our university system to save $1 billion over the next 20 years in water and energy costs,” Ross says. “And while the financial savings are important, we will also be helping to preserve our natural and environmental resources for future generations. “Water, for example, is, we believe, the new precious metal, and we have to be sure its preserved as a public asset and that we protect our water supplies and find new ways to reduce consumption.”
UNC has implemented many ways to conserve water, like grey water in the bathrooms. The University says plans like these will continue to appear as it works to conserve resources.