UMass Amherst Named State Champion in Energy Efficiency Recognition Program

AMHERST, Mass. – The University of Massachusetts Amherst has been named state champion in the 2014 Northeast Business Leaders for Energy Efficiency Recognition Program.

The award, given by Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships (NEEP), honors one institutional energy customer from each state in the Northeast for its commitment to sustainable innovation and for contributions in keeping the region a national leader in accelerating energy efficiency.

UMass Amherst was nominated by Western Massachusetts Electric Co., which supplies about 25 percent of campus electricity, as its most efficient customer. Other honorees in six states and Washington, D.C., include hotels, hospitals, research institutions and regional and global businesses.

State champions are recognized for multi-year energy savings resulting from an energy-efficiency project; collaboration with ratepayer-funded and state energy efficiency programs; comprehensive changes in major systems such as lighting and heating and cooling; continued improvements through system-wide efficiency plans and leadership affecting industry and public policy.

UMass and WMECo, a Northeast Utilities subsidiary, are working together under a memorandum of understanding committing to a three-year plan for increasing energy efficiency and reducing costs. The partnership targets savings of more than 2 percent annually.

UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy said, “This award recognizes the great value of the collaboration between Northeast Utilities/WMECo and the state’s flagship campus. These efforts save energy and reduce costs here at UMass and at the same time set an example for other institutions in the Commonwealth and beyond.”

In the nomination, UMass was cited for its comprehensive approach to energy savings in 2013 in new and existing academic and residential buildings. Energy efficiency projects included lighting, HVAC equipment, energy management systems and controls, and gas turbine upgrades at the university’s combined heat and power plant, which supplies most of the campus’s electricity.

Two major construction projects completed in 2013 were cited in particular: the Life Science Laboratories, a state-of-the-art research space for interdisciplinary teams engaged in cutting-edge research, and the Commonwealth Honors College Residential Complex. The projects’ energy efficiency features range from “daylight harvesting” lighting controls, to energy recovery ventilation, to exterior plantings that require no watering.

In addition, the Lincoln Campus Center received a utility-funded energy audit as part of the UMass–WMECo partnership. That led to efficiency improvements and repairs that save 482,630 kWh annually.

The upgrade at the campus’s EPA award-winning Central Heating Plant cited in the nomination allows the gas combustion turbine to generate an additional megawatt of electricity during hot and humid conditions. It was funded with a $390,000 Clean Energy Grant from the state Department of Energy Resources and a $240,000 MassSave incentive from WMECo. The project also helps UMass generate more than $2.5 million in green credit revenue, which is put back into repairs and efficiency improvement of campus utilities. 

NEEP is a non-profit serving the Northeast that facilitates regional partnerships to advance the efficient use of energy. Among its activities is the coordination of ratepayer-funded efficiency programs.

The UMass award will be formally presented June 3 during the 2014 Northeast Energy Efficiency Summit in Newport, R.I.