Penn State, U. Tennessee Aim for Big Energy Savings

by | Jun 1, 2011

Two universities are implementing energy management strategies that, in at least one case, are projected to deliver big savings.

At Penn State, a university-wide team has invested in PC power management software called BigFix, as part of an overarching initiative that could reduce the institution’s power bill by about $800,000 a year. The software enables IT staff to ensure computers are in sleep mode when they’re not being used, and to remotely wake up the machines when they are needed.

The software has been installed on 20,000 computers, including those in the Department of Meteorology (pictured). Penn State systems design specialist Brian Katyl said that at top efficiency, the university could save $25 per computer per year, or $800,000, and prevent the equivalent of 60,000 tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere.

Penn State aims to use more and more aggressive power management settings, eventually hoping to save $50 per machine per year.

“Deregulation has been pushing the University to look for ways to cut more than $2 million from Penn State’s power budget,” said Rob Cooper, director of energy and engineering at the office of physical plant.

Meanwhile, the University of Tennessee is working with the Tennessee Valley Authority and Knoxville Utilities Board to develop a long-term energy efficiency and energy management program for the university’s flagship Knoxville campus.

TVA’s EnergyRight Solutions for Business program will work with the campus to create a 10-year strategic energy roadmap with targets for electricity demand reduction and annual energy savings. TVA says the plan could become a blueprint for energy management programs at other colleges and universities.

The authority also will conduct training for campus energy managers, recommend systems to measure buildings’ energy performance, develop peak and minimum load management strategies and help implement strategies for communicating these efforts. The project’s first phase is expected to be complete by fall 2011.

UT Knoxville says it is one of the largest green power purchasers in the southeast and is often recognized for its student-led environmental initiatives. In 2005, students approved a special fee to fund green energy purchases and other sustainable initiatives. Since 2008, faculty, staff and students have worked to reduce overall energy consumption, saving more than $1 million, the university says.

“Our students, faculty and staff have made UT a national leader in campus sustainability and this project will enhance our efforts and serve as a model for other colleges and universities,” chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek said.

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