September 14, 2017
Writer: Dain Knudson
In July, Rocky Mountain Power recognized BYU-Idaho with the 2017 wattsmart Business Idaho Partner of the Year Award. BYU-Idaho received the award for its efforts in energy conservation—efforts that have saved 1.24 million kilowatt hours over the past year—enough energy to power 140 homes over the same time period.
University Operations is taking steps to reduce the energy demand on campus, saving the university, and ultimately the students' money.
"We are taking out old fluorescent technology and putting in LED lighting, which has more control, and is also better light as far as lumens," said Kyle Williams, facilities management director. "We are then able to de-lamp- where we replace the three lighting tubes with two-and get better lighting."
Along with replacing older lights with newer, more efficient bulbs in buildings around campus, crews are also replacing sensors that control the lights more efficiently.
"In the classrooms and offices we are installing occupancy sensors, which sense when someone is in the room and turns the lights on," Williams said. "The lights will also turn off when it recognizes there is no one in the room."
Projects to replace bulbs in street lamps around campus are also underway, as well as efforts to make those street lamps more energy efficient.
"Not only do we get a better quality light and high efficiency, but we also get a longer life," Williams said. "Now we don't have to go back to that light pole and replace the bulb every two or three years, we can get up to 10 years of life on that bulb instead."
Street lamps around campus are also being controlled to turn on and off based on sunrise and sunset times. That way, the university is not using street lamps unless it is dark enough to warrant their use. These efforts, as well as other projects around campus, deliver significant cost savings to the university.
"We are projecting about a 20 percent savings for the cost of running these high-efficiency lights," Williams said.
All of these efforts allow Williams and his team to reduce their budget and, subsequently, reduce the cost for students attending BYU-Idaho.
"One of the goals of the university is to lower the overall cost of education. When you look at the facilities department, a large part of our budget is providing utilities to classrooms and other spaces around campus," Williams said. "Anytime we can lower those utility costs means that we can give that money back and allow that money to be used on other things like education, scholarships, and those types of things that help students get here. That is our goal—to meet the university's goal of lowering the overall cost of education."