University Saves $2 Million, Reduces Energy Usage

Finding silver linings during a pandemic is not always easy, but Facilities Operations and Development (FOD) found a way to create positive results despite the challenges created by COVID-19.

In April, May and June, FOD adjusted service levels in buildings based on need. With fewer people on campus and most staff asked to telework, buildings were not in full use. FOD partnered with Ohio State Energy Partners and ENGIE Buckeye Operations to roll out three phases of energy reduction measures in more than 100 academic and research buildings.

As part the of energy reduction measures, FOD made climate-control changes through building HVAC systems to allow temperatures to fluctuate between 50 and 80 degrees or safely reduce air flow, saving up to 35 percent per building.

Ohio State saved electricity, gas and water and delivered both financial and sustainability reductions.

“In three months, Ohio State saved more than $2 million and reduced its carbon footprint emissions by approximately 3%,” said Brett Garrett, FOD’s director of energy. “That is the equivalent to emissions from 4,000 cars driven for one year.”

The decrease in carbon footprint emissions totaled 18,500 MT CO2e, thanks to the temporary HVAC energy savings measures.

FOD also made changes in academic and administrative buildings or in research buildings that contained unoccupied non-laboratory space. FOD worked closely with building liaisons and researchers to limit any negative impacts of the project and to protect critical research in labs. Energy reductions also were adopted in select Student Life and Athletics facilities.

Moving forward, the university will continue the energy reduction effort in spurts through a demand response program that adjusts thermostat set points when demand on the power grid is high. All efforts align with the long-term university sustainability goals, including reducing total campus building energy consumption by 25% by 2025.