Western Carolina University is making big efforts to conserve energy on campus. The Facilities Management department has entered into an energy performance contracting agreement with ESCO, a private energy resource company, and is currently in the selection process of choosing a developer to renovate the Ramsey Center, Hunter Library, Stillwell, Hoey, Mckee and Coulter buildings by installing new light and water fixtures.
The project has been a very in-depth process. Last May, ESCO came to Western and counted every light and water fixture. They then evaluated all the energy-saving opportunities and recommended a plan of improvements. The great aspect of energy performance contracting is that it pays for itself, according to Lauren Bishop, the Energy Manager at Western.
“The savings that result from the new energy efficient fixtures will pay for the project itself,” said Bishop. “If the amount of energy savings doesn’t meet or exceed the cost of the annual project cost, then ESCO will pay the difference. They will even train all the staff to guarantee maximum energy savings.”
There are many benefits to energy performance contracting. Better energy-efficient buildings are constructed, the money saved can be used to invest in buildings and ESCO will provide long-term maintenance for all equipment.
The energy performance contracting is Western’s first major eco-friendly project, and so far, it has been a very successful process. In the near future, Western hopes to implement other energy-saving projects as well as informing the community of the importance of conserving energy. ECO Cats, the conservation awareness organization, is currently planning Western’s annual Earth Day celebration, to be held in April.