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Washington and Lee University

Washington and Lee University
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Energy Conservation / Carbon Footprint


  In 2006 the University spent $2.5 million on a performance contract that installed energy and water saving devices on campus. The energy conservation measures included more efficient lighting systems including room occupancy sensors and more efficient fluorescent bulbs, flow regulators on faucets, shower heads and fixtures and various central heating/cooling plant improvements. The savings will pay back the cost of the project in 10 years and avoided the release of over 2,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent.

  In 2009 the University established a temperature regulation policy to reduce energy consumption.  The maximum temperature during the heating season is 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit and the minimum cooling season temperature is 74 degrees.

  In 2010 a number of energy reduction goals were set:  To reduce utility costs by $1 million by 2011and to reduce the amount of energy used per square foot by 25% by 2013.  The goals set in the W&L Climate Action Plan are to reduce the University's carbon footprint 20% by 2020 and reach carbon neutrality by 2050.

  Also in 2010 a $5 million effort to reduce energy consumption was initiated.  The Five for Five project includes recommissioning of some large buildings to reduce the amount of energy used, installation of improved heating and air conditioning controls and improved utility operations and maintenance.  Other projects include the installation of solar power systems, more efficient lights and controls and utility sub metering.

  The W&L Energy Intelligence System allows users to access real time and historical campus building energy use data.

  The University hired two Energy Educators in April 2011tol develop and monitor the University's energy-management program to reduce utility consumption. This will involve completing energy-use audits of each facility on campus to ensure operating efficiency; providing educational information and promoting energy conversation throughout the campus; and maintaining records and comparative data of utility usage.

  The Facilities Management Department site has more information on campus energy management and conservation.


  The Facilities Management Department has assembled an energy conservation toolbox that contains tools and other resources to help campus community members conserve energy in their dorm room, apartment or house.  The toolbox is available for check out from Leyburn Library.  Toolbox information.


 Columbia Gas of Virginia has a WarmWise rebate program for the purchase of energy efficient appliances for its customers.  The BARC electric cooperative offers an in home energy audit, tips for energy conservation and the installation of a device to remotely control customers' electric heating, air conditioning and water heating devices.  Dominion Virginia Power has a rebate program for the installation of CFL light bulbs and electric heating and cooling units.  Virginia has an annual sales tax holiday on energy efficient products every October. There are also state and federal tax credits and deductions for energy efficiency purchases.


  The first University greenhouse gas inventory was done in 2006 by Laurence Eaton (W&L ’05 Economics) when he was the Project Coordinator for the Environmental Studies Program. It was perhaps the first GHG inventory conducted by an institution of higher education in Virginia.

  The University’s 2007, 2009 and 2011 greenhouse gas audits showed an 8% decrease in emissions over that period. Most of the carbon use is attributable to electricity and natural gas consumption.


  Washington and Lee's Climate Action Plan sets a course for reducing the Universities green house gas emissions 20% by 2020 and reaching carbon neutrality by 2050.  The CAP is has four major components:  education, communication, assessment and implementation.