UB Energy-Conservation Effort Recognized Nationally

By Mara McGinnis

Release Date: October 31, 1997

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A $17.4 million project to save the University at Buffalo $50 million in energy costs over 17 years has been named the 1997 National Energy Project of the Year by the Association of Energy Engineers (AEE).

Launched in 1994, the project is one of the largest such efforts ever undertaken by an American university. It is saving UB an estimated $3 million annually, according to Walter Simpson, project manager and UB energy officer.

The project was implemented in conjunction with CES/Way International Inc., a Houston-based, energy-conservation company. Niagara Mohawk Power Corp. provided a $4.3 million incentive toward the project.

The award recognizes innovative energy management that has been in operation for at least six months and can be substantiated with actual installation costs and operating savings. The UB project was selected from 12 national nominations by a committee of energy experts.

Two of the most cost-effective saving measures of the project include a gas conversion and a heat-recovery system implemented in the Cooke-Hochstetter complex on the North (Amherst) Campus, and a massive retrofit of 60,000 light fixtures on campus that now produce the same amount of light using 40 percent less electricity.

Simpson says the comprehensive project accomplished in three years what might have taken UB 10 to 15 years on its own. Since the project was a partnership with CES/Way and Niagara Mohawk, all parties were able to collaborate and create a large project wherein quick payoff measures helped pay for improvements with long-term payoff.

This particular project is the most recent accomplishment of UB's overall campus energy conservation initiative, which began in the early 1980s and now saves the university approximately $9 million a year.

The AEE, a nonprofit professional society, confers annual awards to individuals, companies or institutions that have achieved national and international prominence in promoting the practices and principles of energy engineering and management.