SUCCESS STORY:
UNIVERSITY OF TAMPA

University of TampaJuan Soler, Energy Manager at the University of Tampa (UT), and his team have significantly improved the energy performance on UT’s 100-acre campus by implementing a variety of energy-reduction measures. From equipment changes that enhance performance and allow greater visibility into energy usage to behavioral tactics that engage staff and students in energy savings, the holistic approach has had a major impact—and garnered tremendous support and enthusiasm from UT. Here’s a look at how Juan’s team leveraged Sodexo’s Energy Reduction Program to improve energy performance.

ELIMINATING THE WASTE

A portion of your energy usage is waste that can be managed with behavior change and new processes. Soler’s plan focused first on eliminating energy waste before making investments in new systems or equipment. If you invest in equipment upgrades before getting a handle on the waste, Soler said, “You are just wasting energy more efficiently.” To pinpoint areas of waste, he first focused on gaining a full understanding of the University’s energy bills. This way, he could identify anomalies in the usage, target needless energy waste and make simple behavioral and administrative changes to correct them.

  • Through performing an audit of the energy bills, he could now see what services they were being charged for and ensure that all account information was correct and that the campus was being billed properly. Upon close inspection, a number of savings opportunities were identified—including an administrative error that revealed the University had been paying for energy use in a building it hadn’t owned for years.
  • These audits can save most organizations up to 10% in energy consumption before any additional improvements are made. In addition, they minimize the need for the client’s accounting department to review bills and adjust mistakes—saving the University on administrative costs.
  • Once cost savings were captured through billing adjustments, Soler began the process of engaging staff and students in energy efficiency best practices, including campus-wide efforts to shut off lights and office equipment when not in use.

MAKING ENERGY USAGE MORE EFFICIENT AND MORE VISIBLE

Once Soler had a handle on energy waste and savings opportunities, he shifted focus to monitoring the campus's larger-scale systems and to analyzing equipment upgrades and/or retrofits.

First, familiarize yourself with the facilities. Ask yourself if billing is accurate. Ask yourself if rate structures are right. Know where your connected loads are. Identify areas where inside and outside lights, computers or AC units are left on. Eliminate waste first; then move forward. Otherwise, you’ll be investing in equipment upgrades just to waste energy more efficiently.

—Juan Soler, CEM CBEP
Energy Manager/Facilities
The University of Tampa

  • A central chilled water loop system was installed, allowing cold water to be pumped throughout the campus from one central location instead of using individual chiller units in each building. Though it was a significant upfront investment, the central system will pay for itself quickly in energy cost savings.
  • Sodexo worked with the utility to transition away from individual electric meters for each building and install a primary electric meter system. This means the utility only has to read one meter for the whole campus, putting UT in a lower rate class and saving them money for the same resource.
  • The challenge with primary metering, however, is that it is difficult to see energy usage anomalies in individual buildings. To address this, Sodexo has installed sub-meters in every building for the chilled water line, the electric panels, the natural gas line and some potable water lines. This allows Soler and the campus’ staff engineer to review energy (BTUH) performance in individual buildings and easily identify usage fluctuations on a month-to-month basis. While the primary meter simplifies meter reading for the utilities, the sub-meter system provides visibility to campus energy administrators, allowing them to fine-tune energy performance in any given building.
  • A pilot program was launched in one campus building to identify areas where automation could be used to save energy. For example, they had identified a situation where a three-week campus event was held until 10pm in the building, requiring the AC to be left on until that time. However, after the three weeks had passed, the AC remained running until 10pm despite the fact that the building was now empty after hours. With the automated scheduling system, this type of waste is avoided. Soler says the pilot program hopefully will be extended throughout the campus once the upgrades to existing building automation systems (BAS) can be implemented.

ENGAGING CLIENTS, STAFF AND STUDENTS

With a 100-acre campus comprised of dozens of buildings and thousands of staff and students, engaging people in energy-efficient behaviors was a huge piece of the puzzle. Soler achieved this by gaining the trust of his client first.

  • By proactively aligning the campus’s utility bills, Soler demonstrated the value of Sodexo’s energy management, earning the trust and support of his client. As a result, he was given authority to communicate with the campus globally about energy usage through the campus-wide email list.
  • In addition, Soler has engaged housekeeping and other campus staff on shutdown checklists. Staff is now trained to identify areas of energy waste and properly reduce energy in buildings during unoccupied periods on campus. The staff is now an integral part of capturing major energy savings. The fact that the housekeeping is also managed by Sodexo and that Soler speaks Spanish helps him to engage with this group.