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USM sees $2M savings in energy costs

HATTIESBURG — Through state-of-the-art technology and smart energy use, the University of Southern Mississippi has cut energy consumption costs on its Hattiesburg campus by nearly $2 million in the past year.

The savings are the result of an initiative by the Southern Miss Physical Plant to further maximize energy efficiency and reduce utility expenditures, keeping with one of the university’s four strategic priorities — healthy minds, bodies and campuses, said Physical Plant Director Dr. Chris Crenshaw.

“In the past three years, we’ve made a dedicated effort to impact utility consumption on campus,” said Crenshaw, who noted that $8 million is budgeted annually for utility expenses at the university.

Facilities across campus, including those designated for academics, athletics, residence life and dining, were assessed at the beginning of the process to determine amounts of energy used, cost and the energy-use infrastructure in each building. The three-phase plan began with the assessment, followed by the implementation of new technology and energy use adjustments and concluding with an outcome analysis.

Crenshaw emphasized that in addition to this most recent initiative, the university continually reviews utility data, targets “hot” spots (high-energy consumption areas of campus) and makes adjustments that have minimal impact on building occupants and materials.

The next phase in the university’s plans to save on utility costs is a $2-million energy retrofit program through the state’s Bureau of Buildings. For the last nine months, on-site reviews of almost every piece of equipment in targeted areas of campus contributed to the development of an energy use strategy.

Besides Chain Technology, other buildings slated for energy efficiency upgrades and adjustments include: Owings-McQuagge Hall; Fritzche-Gibbs Hall; Joseph Greene Hall; George Hurst; Johnson Science Tower; Forrest County Hall; College Hall; Stout Hall; Bennett Auditorium; McLemore Hall; Southern Hall; Kennard-Washington Hall; Aubrey K. Lucas Administration Building; and, the Polymer Science Research Center.

Another campus-wide energy efficiency project to be supported by the Bureau of Buildings will see $750,000 in upgrades in the near future to infrastructure impacting electricity consumption. In addition, Cook Library will see the installation of energy efficient lighting equipment with an estimated payback period of just 18 months.

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