Holiday Setbacks & Energy Conservation Tips
Energy Sources & Infrastructure • Building Construction
Building Commissioning & Upgrades

UGA is actively participating in the Governor’s Energy Challenge to reduce energy consumption per square foot by 15% by the year 2020.  To take energy conservation one step further, UGA’s 2020 Strategic Plan calls for a 25% reduction in  energy use by 2020.

Construction of new buildings and major renovations target a minimum energy reduction of 20% beyond code compliance.

Since 2007, electrical energy consumption per square foot has been reduced by 13% and energy upgrades have been implemented in over 50% of existing buildings on UGA’s main campus resulting in a more than 5% reduction in total energy costs.

Efficient utility infrastructure systems, including steam and chilled water loops, are continually expanded to heat and cool campus buildings efficiently.  Still, the largest consumer of energy on campus is air-conditioning of our buildings.  If your space is too cold when it’s hot outside (or too hot when it’s cold outside), please contact Facilities Management Division’s Too Hot / Too Cold Work Request.

Efforts are being made to educate campus constituents regarding opportunities for personal energy conservation.  Remember “Every Watt Counts!”


Holiday Setbacks & Energy Conservation Tips

The UGA Facilities Management Division is working hard to conserve energy when you’re not here.  Over the winter holiday break, a team of building service workers and mechanics reduce temperature settings and shut down unneeded heating and cooling systems.  These efforts avoid over $100,000 in operating costs each year, not to mention reduced emissions resulting from purchased electricity  – the largest contributor to UGA’s carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions.

For additional questions regarding Holiday Temperature Setbacks contact David Spradley, Assistant Director of Energy Services, at 542-3093 or

Other tips you can do to conserve during holiday breaks…

Hit the Switch
Make sure all lights are turned off.  Be diligent to ensure that not only your office lights are off but also classrooms, labs, restrooms, hallways, common areas, etc.

Electrical equipment continues to draw electricity even when turned off or in sleep mode. Turn off equipment when not in use and unplug as much equipment as possible nightly and over holidays, long weekends, or extended periods of nonuse.  (This can include computers, printers, fax machines, copiers, cell phone and other chargers, lab equipment, break room appliances, and any other electronic device.)

TIP: Plug your computer equipment and appliances into a power strip, this makes it easy to unplug several pieces of equipment at once!

Defrost Refrigerators and Freezers
Refrigerators and freezers should be defrosted when ice on the coils reaches 2 cm thick. It only takes about an hour to completely defrost, but be prepared to catch the water.

TIP: A great time to defrost refrigerators is over vacation times like Thanksgiving, Christmas and spring breaks.

Remember… Every Watt Counts… thanks for your help!


Energy Sources & Infrastructure

Energy is required to power facilities and provide services to fulfill the University’s mission. UGA primarily utilizes electricity, steam, chilled water and natural gas to power its campuses.

Below the surface of UGA is a network of utility infrastructure that powers, heats, cools and fuels the University.  Centralized utility systems enable efficient operation of campus buildings and equipment.  These systems are continually upgraded and expanded to conserve energy while supporting an ever-growing UGA campus.

The vast majority of electricity used on campus is purchased from GA Power. According to GA Power, that electricity is generated by 74% coal, 19% nuclear, 6% natural gas and 1% hydro.

UGA uses steam to heat campus buildings. On main campus in Athens in 2009, steam was created on-site through 70.1% natural gas, 28.5% coal and 1.4% fuel oil. The coal purchased by UGA comes from Norton, Virginia and is used in one of four steam boilers during up to five of the coldest months of the year. Condensate water created during the circulation of steam in underground pipes is captured and reused.  Recent investments in steam metering and insulation in over 30 steam pits on campus reduce heat loss and conserve energy.  UGA, spearhead by the Facilities Management Division Energy Services Department, has completed a Fuel Source Report with the Department of Energy Southeast Clean Energy Application Center to identify technologies to replace coal as a fuel source at the Central Steam Plant.  For information regarding UGA’s stance on the use of coal as a fuel source at the Central Steam Plant, see an Editorial from UGA’s Sr. VP for Finance & Administration.

Chilled Water
Chilled water “loops”, or below-ground systems of piping that connect buildings and their associated chillers, are used to air condition most campus buildings.  These loops are particularly effective because they allow multiple buildings to “share” building cooling equipment and the power required for their operation.

In 2010, a $7.3M Central Energy Plant was constructed to provide efficient cooling of over 3 million s.f. of existing and new building space in UGA’s north, central and west main campus precincts.  This project is anticipated to reduce energy consumption by over 25% for each building connected to this system.

Natural Gas
UGA uses natural gas to create steam and to heat campus buildings and equipment. The steam used on campus comes primarily from the Gulf of Mexico.


Building Construction

All new building construction on campus targets a 20% reduction in energy consumption over standard code compliance.  In addition, major capital improvements managed by the Office of University Architects and select minor renovation projects are pursuing LEED certification.


Building Commissioning & Upgrades

Building systems are routinely upgraded to improve energy efficiency and save operating costs. The Facilities Management Division continuously implements energy improvements on campus, including through federal ARRA funding (American Recovery & Reinvestment Act). Primary focus areas for these grant funds include high-efficiency lighting replacements, mechanical system controls upgrades, and building retro-commissioning.

The College of Engineering and Engineering Outreach Services has partnered with the Facilities Management Division and University Architects through an innovative service-learning program to perform energy modeling, building energy audits, and post-occupancy surveys in campus buildings.  The program combines real world service-learning for students and valuable documentation of building system performance for facility managers at UGA.  As a result of these audits, numerous campus buildings have received upgraded lighting, occupancy sensors, LED exit lighting, and other energy conservation measures.