Improving University Sustainability

Apr 27, 2012

Stuart Smith

Stuart Smith


We have all seen the cost of University tuition going up as sources of funding are slashed. As funding is diminishes, the resulting budget cuts have also affected university sustainability initiatives.

Why University Sustainability is Struggling

Some of these initiatives include sustainability goals for reducing energy use, water use, waste and carbon outputs. Other initiatives may include new buildings or converting buildings to be Leed certified.

Even with federal and state governments offering a variety of incentives such as tax breaks, grants and loans to encourage the increased visibility of green initiatives, universities seem to erroneously view sustainability as buzz term for reducing carbon footprints, an image opportunity for recycling, or research areas for government grants.

Unfortunately, when budgets are cut, capital expenditures and maintenance management are often the first budget items to be impacted because they are considered expense items. This is unfortunate as too many administrators do not understand that cost reductions are the driving force behind sustainability initiatives.

It is the connection the between asset management and operating costs that universities administration needs to understand in order to move forward on sustainability programs. In fact, focusing efforts on asset and maintenance management will not only help achieve sustainability objectives but also produce cost savings that flow directly to the universities bottom line. These savings can then be used to fund other initiatives.

University Sustainability and the Bottom Line

A key component of sustainability is managing energy (electricity and fuels), water and waste. A typical university building uses more than $100,000 worth of energy each year. The vast majority of this come from lighting, HVAC and space heating.

“Energy savings of 10 – 20% (or greater) can be achievable through a technical review of plant equipment and operations and resulting implementation of energy conservation measures (ECMs)”

Source: HVS

The potential savings from improved maintenance management for a university are huge. The costs savings just for energy can easily be between $500,000 and $1,000,000 per year and is the main financial incentive for universities to justify sustainability initiatives.

EAM CMMS Will Help Universities Achieve Sustainability Results

However, achieving these results requires the right EAM CMMS tools and an understanding of how managing assets from their planning stage through replacement can make a world of difference to in getting to the desired operating expense reductions.

EAM CMMS software is designed so that maintenance management has the tools to organize assets, automate manual processes, collect work history and subsequently schedule the appropriate maintenance activity in order to:

EAM CMMS CMMS Sustainability (Energy) Impact Areas
  1. Help find unusual or excessive energy and water usage through inspections or rounds. This includes discovering water leaks, fuel leaks, struggling motors, the water tower with a loud thumping sound, and so on.
  2. Schedule preventive or predictive maintenance on common energy hogs such as HVAC units, chillers, boilers, kitchen equipment because well maintained assets require less energy to produce the same results as an asset that is poorly maintained.
  3. Schedule the conversion of incandescent light bulbs to either energy saving, fluorescent or LED lights.
  4. Schedule rounds to ensure lights are turned off in buildings when not in use or verify occupancy sensors are working correctly.
  5. Identify assets needing major repairs, replacement or retrofitting based upon their work history. Boilers are a prime example of high value assets that can be retrofitted with significant payback.

The benefits of an EAM CMMS system do not stop with lower energy bills. Keeping assets in optimal working order will lengthen their useful lifecycle. The longer they last the few capital budget replacements are needed. An EAM can produce reports to track and schedule capital budget items.

Equally as important is that an EAM system will allow maintenance management to be proactive by giving them the automation needed by creating better efficiencies through automation of the work requests and work orders. Automation and scheduling creates greater additional flexibility in scheduling maintenance and repairs, lowering labor costs as well as lowering the costs of repairs. The increased automation will also lower a university’s carbon footprint as paper based systems are rendered obsolete.

Lastly, implementing an EAM solution will help transform the image of a university from one that talks about lowering their carbon footprint to one that actually can do it and have the data to verify the change. All this makes an EAM CMMS CMMS system ideal for improving university sustainability.

Stuart Smith

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