Campus Energy Plan Saving Millions

Rogers State University has succeeded in turning the Claremore campus “green” and the result is saving millions for taxpayers and students.

Six years, ago RSU adopted a sweeping energy savings plan to make the campus more environmentally friendly, as well as to save the university money. The results have trimmed RSU’s gas and electric bill by about 5 percent, with more than $2.27 million in gross energy savings during the past five years.

The innovative energy savings plan features installation of equipment to monitor energy usage; adoption of measures to save electricity, natural gas and water; and the conversion from outdated heating and air conditioning units to a geothermal energy system serving some of the largest campus buildings.

The buildings on the Claremore campus have seen many changes since the adoption of the energy savings plan. One of the largest changes is the update to the geothermal energy system, which is now standard for new construction.

The geothermal method derives heat by tapping into thermal energy contained in the rock and fluid of the earth’s crust, approximately 400 feet below ground. Approximately 200 wells were drilled on the Claremore campus to tap into the underground heat source and two small pump houses were constructed to channel the energy into the buildings. Since the original installation an additional 125 wells were added to the system when University Village B was constructed on campus.

The renewable geothermal energy system was first introduced to campus in 2005 with the construction of the Innovation Center. That system proved successful, and in 2006 the university implemented a more widespread installation that now provides heating and cooling for Preparatory, Meyer and Baird Halls, the Centennial Center, University Village B and the Hillcat Athletics Center at Soldier Field.

The system will be incorporated into new construction as well, university officials said. Additional wells can be added as becomes necessary to increase the capacity of the system as new buildings are added on campus.

To further increase efficiency, all RSU campuses have introduced a number of other changes. In 2006, RSU upgraded heating and air conditioning systems in most campus buildings to include a set-back mode, which varies the temperature in the buildings based on usage. Most interior lights have been updated to energy efficient light bulbs and ballasts paired with motion sensors to conserve energy when the area is not in use.

All plumbing on campus has been converted to low-flow fixtures and faucets to conserve water use. Paper towel dispensers across campus have been updated to limited-use dispensers or electric dryers. Most recently, LED lighting has replaced incandescent light bulbs in the Health Sciences Building, increasing the light levels while reducing the amount of energy used.

All new buildings have been fitted with energy efficient windows, which keep the heat or cool from escaping the building. All nine floors of the Bartlesville campus have been upgraded with new windows, through a generous grant from the Lyon Foundation. Sealed vapor barriers have also been added.

An ongoing project on campus is the re-roofing of all buildings with reflective and non-absorbing materials that reflect the suns heat.

The money saved in the energy savings plan help cover costs of replacing equipment and reduce the overall utility expenses of the university.

By Lindsay Bolt, RSU PR Intern