Weber State University
Carbon neutrality goals can seem far off and elusive. Low hanging fruit are easily addressed. The tail end of the curve is also clear, but what happens
between low hanging fruit and the offsetting the tail end of emissions is often not well discussed, planned, or implemented. Weber state university
is implementing a four point plan for carbon neutrality: efficiency, electrification, renewable sourcing, and reinvestment of savings. Efficiency:
Minimizing energy consumption in buildings is the first step to becoming capable of carbon neutrality. The standard WSU building has high insulation
requirements, efficient windows, LED lighting, with water cooled, ground sourced variable refrigerant flow (VRF) for HVAC and energy recovery ventilation.
Currently 40% of the campus is LED and 25% is VRF. Electrification: Elimination of fossil fuels is the biggest challenge on the path to carbon neutrality.
WSU is electrifying all end uses of energy on its campus, including traditionally fossil fuel based processes such as heating and transportation. When
done properly, these systems result in lower operational costs, lower maintenance costs, greater efficiency, and improved occupant comfort. Electrification
eliminates the need for direct fossil fuel use and allows buildings to become carbon neutral capable. Source Renewably: Once a building is electrified
and carbon neutral capable, becoming carbon neutral is a question of the sourcing of electricity. For WSU, two sources of renewable energy complete
the puzzle. Groundsource fields will eventually supply all of the campus’s required energy for heating and cooling. Solar energy will generate as much
renewable power on site as possible, and any remaining electricity will be sourced through utility wind and solar programs. Reinvest Savings: WSU utilizes
a number of funding sources including state capital improvement funds, internal capital development funds, state and federal grants, utility rebates,
and WSU’s revolving green fund. This green fund is $5 million of the university’s cash management fund that is set aside for energy projects. The university
effectively borrows from itself, runs the account into a deficit, then pays off the debt with annual energy savings and an additional 3% interest payment.
Savings for fiscal year 2017 were $1.85 million. WSU has decreased energy costs by 44% and carbon emissions by 31% since 2009. This presentation will
focus on financial models, political roadblocks, and other lessons learned.
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