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Awards and Recognition

Region III Institutional Energy Management Award

UW-La Crosse’s energy consumption in 2015 was 12.7 percent lower than a decade ago.

That’s according to a Wisconsin Department of Administration report that summarizes annual energy use in all state facilities. The report sets fiscal year 2005 as a baseline and makes adjustments for weather and total A combination of high efficiency lights and natural light have reduced energy consumption in Centennial Hall, UWL’s academic building. In this picture the wall mounted sconce lights high on the ceiling and the recessed ceiling lights in the two story gathering area are high intensity discharge (HID). This type of lighting allows a large area to be lit while consuming less energy than a fluorescent or incandescent lamp would.campus square footage.

Because of UWL’s dedication and performance in energy efficiency and renewable energy, the university was given one of about 60 awards worldwide this fall from the Association of Energy Engineers, a non-profit professional association with more than 18,000 members.

Energy consumption is measured in British Thermal Units per Gross Square Foot (BTU/GSF). A BTU is the amount of work needed to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. In 2005 the total adjusted BTU/GSF at UWL was 150,442.

By 2015 this number dropped by 12.7 percent to 131,324 BTU/GSF.

The success of UWL’s energy saving efforts is the result of people across campus who operate, maintain, and occupy the approximate three million square feet of building space, says Dan Sweetman, UWL’s safety and sustainability manager.

Specifically, UWL’s Facilities, Planning and Management office has shown a strong commitment to finding opportunities to save on energy and budgets, whether through new green building designs or modern, energy efficient updates to lights, water heaters, faucets and more.

UWL’s new buildings such as Centennial Hall academic building, Eagle Hall residence hall and the Student Union — are built with sustainability and energy efficient designs that meet the national green building certification standards of Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED). Features such as natural lighting and white rooftops translate to less energy to light and cool buildings. LEED building are about 25 percent more energy efficient than a comparable new building constructed at the same time but not built to LEED standards, says Sweetman.

Multiple energy-saving projects across campus have also translated to budget savings. Examples include: 

  • Saving about $46,000 per year – Installed Variable Frequency Drives, which allow Facilities, Planning and Management to control fan operating time and speed.
  • Saving about $187,000 per year — Installed low flow shower heads in 10 residence halls and the Recreational Eagle Center.
  • Currently saving about $53,000 per year — Replacing 32 Watt bulbs with 25 Watt bulbs in all UWL buildings. This project is about three-quarters complete, which represents a total of about 25,000 lamps, each representing a 20 percent drop in energy consumption.

“Facilities, Planning and Management will continue to enhance building systems and operations to reduce UWL’s impact on the environment, demonstrate a commitment to sustainability and reduce the impact of energy costs on operating budgets,” says Sweetman.

About the worldwide energy award

UWL won the Association of Energy Engineers Region III Institutional Energy Management Award for 2016 from the Association of Energy Engineers. The award is the result of collaborative efforts of the state, UWL community and the daily work completed by Facilities, Planning and Management that saves energy through operational activities and innovative designs. The award was presented this fall at the 39th World Energy Engineering Congress in Washington, D.C., the largest energy conference and technology expo held in the U.S.

Do your part

With many students, faculty and staff heading off campus after final exams, this is the perfect opportunity to reduce energy consumption. Follow these tips:

  • Turn off computers, monitors, printers, peripherals and other non-essential office equipment. If in use, shut off the power strip rather than each item individually.
  • Turn off all table lamps, general room lighting, and other electrical items.
  • Unplug and clean office refrigerators; block the door slightly ajar to reduce odor buildup.
  • Unplug chargers when they’re not charging.
  • Close shades, blinds and curtains during unoccupied periods.
  • Encourage reducing energy use.

The key to energy conservation on campus is participation and involvement by everyone, says Sweetman.



STARS seal - reads STARS silver

UW-La Crosse has earned a STARS Silver Rating in recognition of its sustainability achievements from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). STARS, the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System, measures campus sustainability efforts from an economic, social and environmental perspective.

Participating in STARS allows UW-L to compare itself to about 700 other colleges and universities throughout the world that have received STARS ratings. STARS also gives the university a framework to set goals to improve sustainability. UW-L began tracking sustainability for STARS in spring 2014 and submitted its report in May. Institutions are recognized with either a bronze, silver, gold or platinum rating. 

“We met our goal of achieving a silver rating,” says Kelly Nowicki, associate lecturer of Management and STARS coordinator. “This says we’re doing a lot of things right, but we have room to improve. Now, we’ll look to make some of those improvements — some will be easy and others will require setting more long-term goals.” 

UW-La Crosse’s STARS report is available online

An institution’s STARS score is based on the percentage of points it earns across four main categories: operations, academics, engagement, and planning and administration. Nowicki and Rob Tyser, a UW-L faculty member who helped lead the STARS tracking, met with about 40 people across campus over the last year for assistance in collecting data. 

STARS tracking provided numerous UW-L classes an opportunity to participate in data collection and analysis from surveying campus commuting patterns to gauging the student population’s understanding of sustainability. This was one of the most valuable aspects of the STARS program — it allowed students to use the campus as a “living laboratory,” says Tyser.

“This was a huge team effort across campus,” says Nowicki. “My biggest takeaway from this project was the people I met across campus who are all working hard for a great institution.” 

An area where UW-L excelled was the amount of academic research happening on campus surrounding sustainability. About 80 faculty or staff members from all three colleges are engaging in research projects surrounding sustainability — this is about 22 percent of faculty or staff members conducting research. UW-L scored the maximum amount of points it could in this area. The rating highlights how active UW-L faculty are with their research and their strong interest in sustainability, says Nowicki. 

Another area where UW-L excelled was the number of courses with sustainability in the content — either as an overall theme or component of the course. That number reaches 224 total courses. Two UW-L curriculum programs are based on sustainability principles — the Environmental Studies minor in the College of Liberal Studies and the newly created Sustainable Business Minor in the College of Business Administration. 

Both Nowicki and Tyser agree that one area to improve is more coordination and communication about campus sustainability issues, which would help establish a culture of sustainability at UW-L. Unlike many schools, UW-L does not have a full-time position devoted to sustainability coordination. 

“What seems to be holding us back a bit is that although we have many elements of sustainability in place on campus, these elements usually operate in isolation of one another,” says Tyser. “We can do a better job of bringing students, faculty and staff together to share their common interests and visions about sustainability.” 

UW-L aims to apply for the rating again after improvements are made. The goal is to reach a gold or higher rating, says Nowicki.

“STARS was developed by the campus sustainability community to provide high standards for recognizing campus sustainability efforts,” says AASHE Executive Director Meghan Fay Zahniser. “UW-L has demonstrated a substantial commitment to sustainability by achieving a STARS Silver Rating and is to be congratulated for their efforts.” 

Through STARS and other sustainability initiatives, UW-L is starting to develop a culture of sustainability on campus, says Tyser. And UW-L students have become some of the strongest advocates for these initiatives, he adds. They’ve strongly supported the use of student fees to create the Green Fund, which was set up in spring 2008 for environmental-sustainability projects. Several student organizations sponsor sustainability-related projects on campus, including a sustainability newsletter, a fall and spring “sustainability event series” and the campus farmer’s market. 

The institution as a whole has also shown a dedication to sustainability. This is most visibly through UW-L’s two newest buildings — Centennial Hall and Eagle Hall — that both received prestigious national awards for their sustainable and energy-efficient designs — Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification. These efforts, in conjunction with strong curriculum offerings and faculty research that addresses sustainability issues, show that UW-L takes sustainability seriously, says Tyser. 

“An institution of this size has a significant footprint,” says Nowicki. “We are in a position, as an institution of higher education, to be able to educate and enlighten people on the breath and depth of sustainability in hopes to lessen that footprint and leave a place better for future generations.” 

About AASHE:

AASHE is an association of colleges and universities that are working to create a sustainable future. AASHE’s mission is to empower higher education to lead the sustainability transformation. It provides resources, professional development and a network of support to enable institutions of higher education to model and advance sustainability in everything they do, from governance and operations to education and research. For more information about AASHE, visit www.aashe.org.

For more information about the STARS program, visit stars.aashe.org