In the education community, there is an overwhelming acceptance of global warming. In fact, a number of education organizations have raised calls to action and are assuming leadership roles to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and lower their carbon footprints.
For instance, the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) spells out actions that colleges and universities can take to help combat climate warming. More than 500 colleges and universities have signed the ACUPCC. The goal is for signatory campuses to become carbon neutral over time. Many other institutions have made commitments or are being required to meet relevant regulatory requirements.
Improving energy efficiency is the most effective strategy for reducing greenhouse gases, whether or not institutional leaders choose to commit to a formal accord. As Eberhard K. Jochem noted in Scientific American, (September 2006) “ … developing a comprehensive [energy] efficiency strategy is the fastest and cheapest thing we can do to reduce carbon emissions.”
The most effective way to reduce energy consumption is to audit the energy use on a campus and uncover opportunities to improve energy efficiency. This is one step in a successful campuswide energy master plan. Reducing energy consumption in an individual building is helpful, but an energy master plan for an entire campus integrates all facility needs into an even more efficient long-term plan.
Energy master planning in elementary and secondary school districts can provide a cohesive solution for an entire system and pool all of the advantages of having multiple buildings. A master plan can provide a comprehensive maintenance and operating plan, rather than focusing on a single building. Such a plan can reduce maintenance and operating costs by an additional 30 percent.
A thorough campus energy master plan will take into account a campus' past, present and future energy usage. Upon completion, it will evaluate campus, economic and climate benefits and provide approximate costs for carrying out the recommendations.