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VU Main Campus Energy Efficiency and Conservation Accomplishments

In 2008, the Division of Administration at Vanderbilt formed a three-pronged approach to reducing campus utility usage: improvements in existing buildings needing renovation; efficient systems in new buildings being constructed on campus, and; education of campus occupants in utility-conserving behaviors when using buildings. VU Plant Operations personnel are constantly looking at ways to reduce energy consumption by substituting and matching the most energy efficient products to specific applications.

Existing Building Energy Performance Improvements

Plant Operations has improved existing building energy efficiency while also addressing operational deficiencies through the following projects:

  • Buttrick Hall – Building automation system adjustments, night temperature setbacks
  • Cole Hall – HVAC renovation
  • Jacobs / Featheringill Engineering – Building automation system adjustments
  • Law School – Lighting retrofit, building automation system and HVAC upgrades
  • McGill Hall – HVAC renovation
  • Memorial Gym – Lighting control
  • OGSM – Building automation system upgrade, lighting retrofit
  • Olin Hall – Building automation system upgrade, HVAC renovation
  • Rand Hall – Chiller replacement, Building automation system upgrade, HVAC renovation/re-commissioning
  • Sarratt – Chiller replacement, building automation system upgrade, HVAC re-commissioning
  • Studio Arts – Building automation system adjustments
  • Tennis Center – Lighting retrofit, lighting control
  • Tolman Hall – HVAC renovation
  • McTyeire Hall – Building automation system upgrade, chiller replacement
  • Heard Library – Lighting retrofit and control, HVAC renovations

Since 2007, these improvements have saved 12,513,500 kwh, 7,300 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, and $1,260,000 in electricity/steam/chilled water costs.

Currently, Plant Operations has additional projects underway in the following buildings:

  • Commons Center – Building automation system re-commissioning, night setbacks
  • Kennedy – Building automation system upgrade, demand control ventilation
  • Wilson Hall – Air handling unit and chiller replacement, building automation system upgrade

Energy Efficiency in New Buildings/LEED Certification

Since 2008, Campus Planning and Construction has incorporated energy conserving features in 10 new buildings or large renovations on main campus that have subsequently been certified as energy efficient under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program of the U.S. Green Building Council. The following buildings are LEED-certified on VU main campus:

SpeakerSpeaker Information/Biography
Anthony Cortese, ScDPresident of Second Nature, a nonprofit organization with a mission to catalyze a worldwide effort to make healthy, just, and sustainable action a foundation of all learning and practice in higher education. More information.
Barbara Kingsolver, MSAuthor of \"Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life,\" detailing her family\'s attempt to eat only locally grown food for an entire year. More information.
Bill McKibbenFounder of, an international climate campaign, and well-known author of numerous books and articles about climate change, religious environmentalism, and alternative energy. More information.
Charles Redman, PhDProfessor of Natural History and the Environment and Director of Arizona State University\'s School of Sustainability. More information.
Colin Beavan, PhD (\"No Impact Man\")Launcher of the No Impact Project, in which he, his wife, his two-year-old daughter and his four-year-old dog lived in the middle of New York City for one year with as little environmental impact as possible. More information.
Dave PeltonFounder of Clean Cities of Middle Tennessee and President of Trust for the Future. More information.
E.O. Wilson, PhDHarvard Professor of Biology and author of \"The Creation: An Appeal to Save Life on Earth,\" which discusses the consequences of humanity\'s destructive impact on the Earth and its biodiversity. More information.
Eban Goodstein, PhDProfessor of Economics at Lewis and Clark College and creator of National Teach-In on Global Warming Solutions. More information.
Ed Begley, Jr.Hollywood environmental leader and star of the eco-reality television show \"Living with Ed.\" More information.
Jeff BarrieEnvironmental documentary filmmaker and director of \"Kilowatt Ours.\" More information.
Jennifer BarrieYouth Initiative Director of \"Kilowatt Ours\" and environmental educator. More information.
Kim Shinn, PE, LEED APChairman of the Middle Tennessee Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). More information.
Lester Brown, MPA, MSFounder of the Worldwatch Institute and Earth Policy Institute. More information.
Mark Cohen, PhDVice President for Research and Senior Fellow at Resources for the Future environmental think tank and former Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management professor. More information.
Michael Crow, PhDPresident of Arizona State University. More information.
Michael Pollan, MAAuthor of \"In Defense of Food: An Eater\'s Manifesto\" and \"The Omnivore\'s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals.\" More information.
Paul Sloan, JDTennessee Department of Environment and Conservation\'s Deputy Commissioner. More information.
Peter Senge, PhDAuthor of \"The Necessary Revolution: How Individuals and Organizations Are Working Together to Create a Sustainable World.\" More information.
Rob Melnick, PhDExecutive Dean and Chief Operating Officer of the Global Institute of Sustainability (GIOS) at Arizona State University. More information.
Suzanne Malec-McKenna, MALeading authority on energy, the environment and their connection to economic growth, and former Commissioner of Environment for the City of Chicago, current Senior Counsel for the strategic communications firm Jasculca Terman and Associates, Inc. (JT). More information.
Tim Mohin, MACurrently, Principal Sustainability Consultant with Environmental and Occupational Risk Management (EORM); formerly of EPA, Intel and Apple Corporation. More information.
Van Jones, JDExpert in human rights and the clean energy economy and author of \"The Green Collar Economy.\" More information.
William McDonough, MArch, FAIAAuthor of \"The Hannover Principles: Design for Sustainability\"; co-author of \"Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things\"; and co-founder of William McDonough & Partners, Architecture and Community Design and McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry (MBDC). More information.
Scott Frickel, PhDProfessor at Wisconsin-Madison whose current research interests lie in the study of knowledge, in particular knowledge about the environment, environmental health, risk and justice. More information...
Chris Ann Lunghino, JDFounder and president of Sustainability USA. More information...
Billy ParishCo-founder and president of Solar Mosaic, a solar investment platform. He\'s also co-author of \"Making Good: Finding Meaning, Money & Community in a Changing World.\" More information...
Bill Ruddiman, PhDProfessor Emeritus of Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia. More information...
Anthony Leiserowitz, PhDDirector of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication and a Research Scientist at the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies at Yale University. More information...
Aaron M. McCright, PhDAssociate Professor of Sociology in the Department of Sociology and Lyman Briggs College at Michigan State University. More information...
Timmons Roberts, PhDProfessor of Environmental Studies and Sociology at Brown University, where he was Director of the Center for Environmental Studies from 2009 to 2012.

Energy Use Behavioral Change Projects

The Sustainability and Environmental Management Office (SEMO) encourages improvement in energy usage behaviors amongst the VU campus community through the ThinkOne energy conservation program. Research indicates that universities can conserve up 10-15% of their utility demand through aggressive educational and behavioral change programs, at very little cost to the university. Thus, SEMO has partnered over the years with a wide variety of departments and groups to design and promote behavioral improvements in the energy use of faculty, staff and students.

A few examples include the following:

  • In 2008, SEMO partnered with the Psychology department and Peabody College in an IRB-approved study to test the effectiveness of energy conservation interventions (feedback, peer education) on staff and faculty in 24 academic buildings on main campus. This year-long project produced 3-9% annual electricity savings for the buildings in the study, and results were published in 2009 as a doctoral dissertation.
  • During the 2008 study, SEMO developed the ThinkOne energy conservation website, to educate VU faculty, staff and students on actions they can take to reduce energy consumption while on campus.
  • In 2009, SEMO worked closely with Dean of Students office and VSG to develop a peer education program for residential students, termed “Eco-Dores.” 34 undergraduate students volunteer each year to act as peer environmental educators for each residence hall on campus, and SEMO supports these volunteers by providing high quality energy conservation education and support in developing outreach activities.
  • In 2010, the Dean of the Commons office chose to include energy conservation as one of five criteria measured during the Commons Cup competition. This year-long project resulted in ~100,000 kwh and $10,000 savings in the 10 Commons Houses and was submitted by two School for Science and Math at Vanderbilt (SSMV) students in the Siemens Corp.’s national “We Can Change the World” competition. The SSMV students finished third out of 24 finalists nationally. They will each receive a $5,000 scholarship and SSMV will receive a $500 grant. Read more…
  • In Spring 2011, Plant Operations and Dean of Students Office agreed with VSG and SPEAR to set aside $75,000 in a “Green Fund” that will fund energy conservation project ideas submitted by VU students. This project has just launched, and the first crop of 24 projects was recently reviewed by the Green Fund Working Group. Three projects were chosen to receive funding: “VU Solar Initiative,” “Lights Out,” and “Green Showers.” Implementation of these projects will occur over Summer 2011, and a new application and funding cycle will commence in Fall 2011.

In academic year 2011/2012, plans include expansion of the ThinkOne behavioral change project into VU’s laboratory and research areas as well as partnership with the College of Arts and Sciences in the faculty-based “Year of Sustainability”.