With a growing campus, energy consumption at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso could easily eat up a larger and larger portion of the university’s budget.
But efforts by the team in TTUHSC El Paso’s Physical Plant and Support Services have led to a 14.6% reduction in energy use during the past three years, despite the campus’ square footage growing by 11.5%. The energy use reductions helped the university save more than $500,000 from 2015 to 2018.
The energy savings have been part of a long-term effort to improve equipment and gain more control of cooling and heating in university buildings, said Leopoldo Pereyra, managing director of Physical Plant and Support Services. The effort began back in 2010, as the university slowly began to fill buildings that had not been at capacity.
“We identified some issues in how the energy was managed,” Pereyra said. “There were several infrastructure upgrades that needed to be done to prepare the university for the future. We needed updates on the controls and mechanical systems. Because energy costs are a significant amount of the university’s budget, that’s where we need to concentrate if we want to find savings.”
The upgrades began paying off in 2015, Pereyra said, with annual energy savings of about 6%. Those savings have continued to be put back into upgrades to gain further energy consumption reductions.
One ongoing upgrade effort that can be seen around campus is the upgrade to LED lighting, which consumes less energy.
“We’ve already upgraded all main hallways of the Medical Education Building, numerous areas in the Texas Tech Physicians of El Paso clinics, the Academic Education Center and the Medical Sciences Building I,” Pereyra said. “And just recently, the Gayle Greve Hunt School of Nursing invested their own funding into upgrading the lighting of their building. So that building is top of the line in mechanical equipment and lighting fixtures. We are in excellent shape for the future, especially with the conservation culture we have developed at TTUHSC El Paso.”
TTUHSC El Paso employees play a big role in helping the university consume less energy and help empower the campus community to be good stewards of private and public funding, Pereyra said.
“One very important thing is to turn off the lights,” Pereyra said. “Once they leave their offices, turn off everything that is drawing electrical current: the computers, the lights. That’s a big help. The campus can help us obtain our goals. It may seem like a small thing, but if you have staff and students doing the same thing, it can add up to big savings.”