UC Berkeley News


PG&E incentives lead to significant savings
Energy conservation on campus profits from partnership with utility

| 04 June 2008

Imagine: UC Berkeley changes light fixtures and bulbs in 12 buildings and saves 572,000 kilowatt hours of electricity a year, enough to power about 88 Northern California homes.

Or, the campus captures steam already being produced for heat and conserves 83,000 therms of gas each year, enough for 153 homes.

Both those things have in fact happened already. And thanks to the university’s energy-efficiency partnership with PG&E, the utility paid 60 percent of the $321,000 cost.

And now, Berkeley is embarking on five new projects funded through the partnership, fine-tuning ventilation systems in 12 buildings for an even more substantial energy cut: 3 million kilowatt hours, or about 1.5 percent of the campus’s total annual electricity use, plus 96,000 therms.

In a ceremony held May 20 at the Physical Plant–Campus Services (PP–CS) building on Carleton Street, Vice Chancellor for Facilities Services Ed Denton and PP–CS Assistant Vice Chancellor William Hewson accepted a check for almost $500,000 from PG&E to help cover the $1 million cost of the five projects. A second installment of some $300,000 will be paid when the projects are completed in December.

The ventilation projects are the latest round of work funded through the Higher Education Energy Efficiency Partnership, which includes UC, California State Univeristy, California Community Colleges, PG&E, and two Southern California utilities. The program began in 2004 and is expected to run through 2014.

Patrick MacArdle, a project manager for Capital Projects who assumed the new position of campus energy-efficiency program manager this week, will be overseeing the five new ventilation jobs plus all future partnership projects.

“This is an area in which the campus is way out in front of everyone else, including the other UC campuses,” MacArdle says. “I’m very excited.”

Campus sustainability director Lisa McNeilly says this year’s five projects, plus others on the drawing board, will play a significant role in efforts to reach Berkeley’s goal of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2014.

The five ventilation projects this year, and others planned over the next three years, will produce at least one-third of the needed reduction, according to preliminary calculations by McNeilly.

PG&E’s investment has been vital to the university’s efforts to keep energy use, and costs, from soaring as the campus continues to build and grow, according to Raul Abesamis, a Berkeley energy engineer who oversaw the lighting and steam-trap projects as interim energy-efficiency program manager.

“Had we not had these incentives, I don’t think we would have been able to implement these projects,” he says.

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