In August 2009, as the University faced further budget cuts, the Administration solicited suggestions from the University community about ways the campus could save money. Many of the suggestions focused on energy and other resource conservation opportunities that offer financial and environmental benefits.
Suggestion: Raise the temperature of the thermostat in summer and lower it in the winter.
Response: Current operating standards target building temperatures at 78 degrees in the summer and 68 degrees in the winter. Unfortunately, there are a large number of buildings that have older heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment, and temperature control is challenging. Generally, thermostats may have to be set at 74 degrees in summer so that none of the covered areas exceeds the 78 degree limit. In winter, thermostats may have to be set at 72 degrees so no area falls below 68 degrees. During extended breaks, temperature settings are reduced. Last winter break, temperatures were dropped as low as 55 degrees in some buildings to reduce energy usage.
In newer buildings with automation systems, remote controls allow for changing building temperatures and lighting during unoccupied periods, such as overnight and on weekends. The University has programmatically been retrofitting older buildings to allow for remote control of HVAC systems and lighting. These improvements, as well as energy conservation strategies by building occupants, will assist the University in achieving its targeted goal of a 15% energy reduction by 2015.
Suggestion: Use more energy efficient lights and reduce lighting in hallways.
Response: In spring 2008 the University began an aggressive program of reducing energy consumption in the hallway lighting of academic buildings. New standards were adopted that met criteria set by the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA). Lighting levels were reduced, high efficiency T5 fixtures were installed, and fixtures were spaced further apart to achieve a level suitable for hallway lighting. The fixtures were also tied into the University's building automation system so that lights can be dimmed 50% during non-occupied hours. To date, 21 academic buildings have been retrofitted with this new system, saving the University 1.8 million kilowatt-hours ($203,000) and reducing CO2 emissions by 1,446 tons.
After the hallway project is complete, the lighting retrofit program will be expanded to offices and classrooms. Where economical, occupancy sensors will be added for lighting control. In some areas, the University will need to continue to rely on occupants to ensure that lights are turned off when rooms are not in use.
Suggestion: Invest in energy-saving equipment.
Response: In 2009, the Maryland Board of Public Works approved a $20M energy service contract with Johnson Controls to upgrade electrical, mechanical and plumbing equipment to more efficient models. This investment will save nearly $30M in energy costs and eliminate over 50,000 tons of carbon emissions over the next 15 years. Under this contract, the University is retrofitting lighting in nine campus buildings (other than hallways) and upgrading HVAC systems, water conservation, and building automation controls. In addition, solar technology will be used to preheat hot water for Ellicott Dining Hall and to produce electricity for the Driskell Center lighting in Cole Student Activities Building. These improvements will reduce energy consumption by 22% in these buildings.
Student Affairs expects energy and water savings of at least $280,000 annually due to installation of energy-efficient equipment in Campus Recreation Services, Dining Services, Residential Facilities, Transportation Services, and Residential Facilities.
The Climate Action Plan includes a section titled "environmentally preferable purchasing policy." This policy calls for the purchase of Energy Star products where available. Suggestion: Mandate unplugging of computers, printers, copiers, and vending machines on evenings and on weekends.
Most of our computer servers (such as those in our Data Centers) are working 24 hours per day and should not be turned off. Turning off local desktop computers and printers nightly and on weekends provides energy savings. PCs also produce heat, so turning them off reduces building cooling loads. Users should make sure that their monitors, printers and other accessories are on a power strip/surge protector. When this equipment is not in use for extended periods, the power strip switch should be turned off to prevent drawing power even when computers are shut off. This is also true for phone chargers. Campus photocopy machines have features that reduce energy use when the machines are not in use. The campus is also piloting an energy "miser" device on soda machines to reduce energy usage. In conjunction with hardware to reduce energy, the University has launched initiatives that involve the campus community in energy conservation. For example, a pilot program at the Chesapeake Building and Martin Hall provides timely energy use data to building occupants in an effort to reduce energy consumption through behavior change. More information on the program will be posted on the Sustainability website under Enerwi$e UM. If the program is successful, it will be expanded to other campus buildings and departments.
Suggestion: Eliminate low-use computer labs in academic buildings.
Response: The Office of Information Technology (OIT) continually monitors usage in the five labs it supports across campus to assess both usage and the hardware and software it should support. In Spring 2009, OIT closed two of its low usage labs—one located in A. V. Williams and the other in the Engineering and Physical Sciences Library. The remaining computer labs on campus are supported by colleges or departments that are also monitoring their usage.
Suggestion: Cut down high mileage of our maintenance trucks; reduce the number of motor vehicles in Facilities Management.
Response: Building and Landscape Services has added six electric utility vehicles to its fleet and de-centralized two units to work directly in their respective zones, reducing the need for excessive driving. Administrative staff members within the unit share one truck among eight staff members rather than having assigned vehicles. In addition, the unit implemented a rigid gas filling policy that reduced FY09 gas usage by $15,000 compared to FY08.
Suggestion: Use conference calls instead of traveling to many meetings.
Response: Whenever possible, the use of conference calls and videoconferences is encouraged. While this does not eliminate the need to travel to all meetings (e.g., research, teaching and training conferences sponsored by professional associations), conference calls and videoconferences reduce the need for many face-to-face meetings and require far less investment than traveling. The University currently has an agreement with Infinite Conference to provide audio conferencing services that can be utilized campus-wide. Units can set up online, on demand audio conferencing, whenever and wherever, with operator assistance 24/7. There are no requirements for set-up fees, monthly minimums, or contracts; the current rate is 3.5 cents per minute per connection (with a toll charge for international calls.) Usage can be billed directly to departments. Visit http://www.infiniteconferencing.com/umd/index.html for more information.
Suggestion: Implement a 4 day/10 hour per day work week.
Response: The campus currently has some staff employees who work compressed workweek schedules. Staff members may make a request to their supervisor for such a schedule at any time. In evaluating a request, supervisors first consider the employee's duties and responsibilities to ensure that needs of the unit are met, consistent with our teaching, research and service missions. While this type of flexibility is desirable and may even net nominal energy savings, it is not always feasible given our commitments to students and the other stakeholders we serve.
Suggestion: Encourage telecommuting.
Response: The University presently has some staff and faculty taking advantage of telecommuting arrangements, generally working from home up to a few days per month. The campus encourages telecommuting of faculty and exempt employees to the extent that their job duties and responsibilities allow. In fact, there is a telecommuting provision in the Memorandum of Understanding that covers Exempt Bargaining Unit employees. The University will continue to consider requests for telecommuting arrangements from faculty and exempt employees.
Suggestion: Stop printing all paychecks and pay stubs.
Response: Most campus employees participate in a direct deposit program. However, the State printed approximately 2,000 paychecks (many for student workers) in the most recent pay period. Employees can suppress the printing of their bi-weekly earnings statements (pay stubs) by going to the following website: was-3.umd.edu/phrearningstatement/earningstatement and clicking "No." Currently about 50% of faculty and staff employees and 30% of student employees suppress their earnings statements. When paper copies are eliminated, employees have complete access to the on-line version for the most recent five years. Both paychecks and earnings statements are produced at the Central Payroll Bureau in Annapolis so eliminating them is an important paper-saving measure, but does not directly impact the College Park budget.
Suggestion: Stop printing the telephone directory and many other campus publications.
Response: Printing of the telephone directory will be discontinued this year. The directory is available online with enhanced capabilities at www.umd.edu/directories/. Offices wishing to obtain a printed copy of the directory can purchase it from University Printing.
This year one of the three issues of Terp Magazine will be online only. The annual Donor Honor Roll will also appear online only. The sexual harassment policy and the drug policy will be sent out by email (rather than print) this year and in the future. Campus units are being encouraged to produce their newsletters and event announcements online, as many of them already do.
Suggestion: Reduce the number of shuttle bus lines; work out a deal with Metrobus to replace some current routes.
Response: The Student Affairs Division examines ridership on the shuttle bus routes each semester and adjusts the routes as necessary to accommodate fluctuations in ridership. Efforts are being made to work with Metro to provide cards for our students, but no affordable solution has yet been reached.
Suggestion: Increase parking fees.
Response: The annual parking fee for faculty, staff and students did not increase this year. However, the visitor parking lots were converted to pay-per-use lots and the visitor parking fee was raised from $2 to $3 per hour in order to cover the costs of the friendly ticket program. The friendly ticket program provides a warning (rather than a ticket) to a visitor who commits his or her first parking violation. The move to pay-per-use parking lots reduced personnel costs for parking.
Suggestion: Replace labor-saving and costly floral landscaping with native plans and xeriscaping.
Response: Most of the University's current landscape installations include perennial plantings. The campus has utilized native plants where practical and currently has at least five native gardens in locations around the campus, none of which are irrigated. For example, there is a native meadow being established at the Comcast site; Washington Quad was renovated to include an underground rainwater storage cistern that irrigates the landscape around the buildings; and the new Knight Hall has been designed with similar sustainable landscaping
There are some areas where the campus accentuates color for effect, such as the "M." These areas are typically planted with annuals on a twice a year cycle: fall/winter and spring/summer. The "M" may have a third planting cycle on Maryland Day.
Suggestion: Reduce the frequency of mowing the grass.
Response: The University is currently mowing on a 7-10 day cycle with turf cut at a height of four inches. This is the correct height for the primary turf grown on campus; it thickens the turf, shades out more weeds, reduces stress, requires less water and reduces storm water run-off. However, if the turf is left to grow even taller, damage will occur by removing more than a third of the turf blade during mowing. In addition, the taller grass ends up costing significantly more in labor by requiring double cuttings, removal of excess clippings, increased running of mower equipment (more C02), and more equipment repairs. If weather interferes, the cycle falls far behind. By mowing regularly at the four inch height, the campus can re-cycle all clippings back to the turf area, helping to meet nutrient needs of the grass and reducing the need to fertilize.
Suggestion: Increase recycling throughout the campus.
Response: The University has increased its recycling rate from 17% in 2003 to 54% in 2007. The campus has an increasing number of programs committed to increasing the percentage of recycled materials. These are highlighted on the Office of Sustainability website.