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UC Clermont goes green

Wind-power agreement is latest project aimed at improving energy efficiency on campus

UC Clermont College is now 100 percent wind-powered, thanks to a new three-year energy agreement between the University of Cincinnati and American Electric Power.

The agreement began in October and covers energy provided for UC Clermont College, UC Blue Ash and the university’s satellite sites, said Michael Hofmann, UC director of utilities. The wind power is generated in northern Ohio, northern Indiana and Texas, and will save the equivalent in CO2 emissions of 3,683 homes’ electricity use for one year. In addition to the benefit of using renewable energy, the college is projected to save approximately $25,000 annually through the new contract.

But the move to wind power is just the latest in a slew of steps taken by UC Clermont to increase energy efficiency on campus, said Stephen Young, UC Clermont’s senior assistant dean of Facilities and Technology Services. Most recently, the college has invested in replacing decades-old chillers and boilers to upgrade the heating and cooling system, some of which dated back when UC Clermont first opened its doors in 1972. The new chillers will use magnetic bearings, which require no oil, use less energy and require less maintenance. Windows in the Edith Peters-Jones building public areas have been replaced with energy-efficient glass, digital thermostats and occupancy sensors were added to the control system, which enable the college’s facilities staff to control classroom temperatures more efficiently and the college is phasing in LED lighting to replace traditional fixtures throughout campus.

When complete, all of the projects combined are expected to reduce UC Clermont’s energy costs by 25-30 percent and reduce campus energy consumption by 40 percent.

“It’s exciting to be here as these changes are happening because they will impact the institution positively for the next 20-30 years,” said Young. “I was always taught to leave something better than you found it. These projects will reduce energy use, maintenance and costs for the college over the long term.”

Young said the college is also exploring the conversion of its West Woods Academic Center, built in 2006, to a geothermal/electric model (the structure’s energy is currently supplied entirely via electricity) over the next five years.

“The power purchase decisions that we make and the energy efficiency upgrades that we are making demonstrate the University of Cincinnati’s commitment to innovation and sustainable energy solutions,” said Dean Jeff Bauer. “At UC Clermont, we are proud to provide this leadership in the community and to provide educational experiences that incorporate critical thinking about sustainability and the impact of the decisions that we make today. In addition to the environmental benefits, the cost savings from these projects will allow us to continue to focus our funds on our core mission — student learning.”