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Energy Management

According to a study by the Education Advisory Board, 80 percent of the short-term energy cost and utilization opportunities reside on demand-side management. We continue to focus on proven energy efficiency measures, including no-cost to low cost alternatives.

Read the UNC Sustainability Policy


WCU Energy Management Program:

To address the requirements of General Statute 143-64.12 the State Agencies and the UNC System were required to achieve a 20% reduction in BTUs/sqft from a 2002-03 baseline by 2010 and a 30% reduction by 2015.  Governor Cooper’s Executive Order 80 added on to the statute stating that state-owned buildings are to achieve a 40% reduction by 2025.  WCU has developed this Energy Management Program to effectively manage the ongoing use of electricity, natural gas, and other fuel as well as water.  As the campus continues to grow in square footage, staff, faculty, and students it is even more important to manage utility spending.  This allows WCU to remain good stewards of all the resources that are awarded to us.  When it comes to saving energy, the goal of the Energy Management Program is simple.  WCU must constantly monitor, control, and conserve energy in all buildings and across campuses.  Typically, this involves the following steps:

  1. Metering energy consumption and collecting the data.
  2. Finding opportunities to save energy and estimating how much energy each opportunity could save.  By analyzing our meter data, WCU can find and quantify routine energy waste and investigate the energy savings that could be made by replacing equipment (e.g., lighting) or other building upgrades.
  3. Taking action to target the opportunities to save energy (i.e., tackling the routine waste and replacing or upgrading the inefficient equipment).  Typically, you'd start with the best opportunities first.
  4. Tracking your progress by analyzing your meter data to see how well your energy-saving efforts have worked.

(And then back to step 2, and the cycle continues...)

It is critical that Energy Management continue to focus on the 5 areas below.  By focusing on these areas, WCU can maintain the great work that has been accomplished to this point.  

Energy Data Management – WCU has a program for collecting and analyzing monthly utility billing information using spreadsheets.  This data is compared year to year and month to month to assess fluctuations and abnormalities that may occur.  The problem is that by the time the data is reviewed it is 30 days old.  While this has worked well for years, WCU needs the ability to see energy usage data today and not the end of the month.  The goal is to move the progress to more real time data.  This would allow WCU to see changes immediately as they take place allowing actions to be taken when problems are occurring in real time. 

Energy Supply Management – WCU is proactive in selection of electrical rates and cost-effective fuel rates for all campus buildings.  Energy supply management must also demonstrate choices that achieve the campus and UNC System goals to be carbon neutral by 2050, the state goal of 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2025. Facilities Management thoroughly reviews utility invoices for deviations indicating billing errors.  Work is being done to incorporate a demand-side management program that aims to lower electricity demand at peak times to help save WCU money.  The goal of this plan would create a program that would reduce demand charges in real time.  By being able to measure demand, WCU could set a limit on the actual demand being used at any time.  If tied to the building automation system would allow for additional energy savings and a reduction in the overall electricity bought by WCU.  

Energy Use in Facilities – Building HVAC and lighting controls are updated as renovations occur or as Retro-Commissioning takes place.  New buildings have state-of-the-art Building Automation System (BAS) controls.  New and existing building control systems will be evaluated and adjusted for optimum energy usage.  The work of both the Energy Manager and Controls technician is critical to ensure optimum operation and most of all maintain the best learning environment possible.  As a new requirement of the energy management team, every building will be walked every 3 months.  This provides an ideal time to identify projects, spot issues and communicate with campus staff and students.  These building assessments are fundamental to controlling unnecessary plug loads while allowing us to see changes in use and occupancy more often.       

Equipment Efficiency – WCU requires all equipment replacements to meet or exceed code requirements.  Preventive Maintenance (PM) has been moved primarily to second shift and is key to our energy efficiency program.  PM has a major impact on any energy management program.  It is no different here at WCU.  By performing PM, WCU can keep energy using equipment running in the most efficient way.  Energy Management will continue to help specify energy consuming equipment and will continue to identify and evaluate cost-effective modifications or replacements.  All equipment shall be selected by Life Cycle Cost Analysis as required by statute.  While funding for replacement and equipment upgrades can have their challenges, WCU will continue to take advantage of the UNC System 1292 Carry Forward funds.  Larger and more capital intense equipment and projects will be identified and are normally funded through R&R capital projects.

Organization Integration & Awareness Training – The Senior Energy Manager will continue to work closely with the University Sustainability Officer for various energy conservation measures and training efforts within the appropriate University departments. The Sustainability Office priorities since 2018 are to pursue compliance with the UNC Sustainability Policy (600.6.1).  Energy management is recognized in the sustainability plan under a category of “Operational Priority” with an expectation for continuous improvement for all campuses.  These efforts are aimed at improving behavior and awareness in ways that contribute to the WCU continued ability to exceed the state of North Carolina mandated conservation goals.  In communicating with staff, faculty, and students the goals of the Energy Management Program, WCU is hoping for continued assistance and most of all new ideas that may help the campus save energy and the environment.

How WCU Compares to the 20-21 UNC System Averages


UNC System Averages

WCU  Averages
FY 2022-23

Cost Per Square Foot



BTUs/sqft reduction



Total BTU/sqft



Cost Per Million BTU



Annual Cost Per Student



Cost Per 1000 Gallons Water



Water Usage per Gross Sqft




Energy Plans and Reports


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