Menomonie, Wis. – The change at North Hall on the University of Wisconsin-Stout campus is easily noticeable from the outside. With an expansion completed last year that increased the square footage from 14,000 to roughly 90,000, the building is six times its former size.
What you can’t see from the exterior is how the renovation project has reduced energy waste. The school worked with FOCUS ON ENERGY® to ensure the updated residence hall would be energy efficient when it reopened and welcomed more than 370 students last fall.
“UW-Stout is committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2050, so we are always seeking out ways to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions,” said campus Sustainability Manager Sarah Rykal.
UW-Stout invested more than $21 million in the project, with almost $194,000 for work related to energy efficiency. Focus on Energy helped offset that energy-efficiency total with a financial incentive of $27,067 delivered to the university late last year. The efficiency measures and equipment in the building will also save the university more than $32,000 annually in avoided energy costs, which means the investment in energy efficiency will pay for itself in about five years.
“Our campus regularly works with Focus on Energy. We really value this Program because it pushes us to consider energy efficiencies through its incentive process,” Rykal pointed out. “We’re more likely to do energy projects when we know we can improve our [return on investment] with an incentive from Focus on Energy. We even have a campus-wide energy committee that created a Focus on Energy procedure, requiring our campus departments to utilize Focus on Energy [offerings] whenever we do renovation projects or make energy-related purchases. This committee also meets with our Focus on Energy rep each year to learn about new incentives.”
The list of efficiency measures built into the renovated North Hall include:
“Electricity and heating/cooling are our two biggest categories for emissions. Combined, they represent 75.9% of our emissions. When we can become more energy efficient as a campus – through more efficient lighting, occupancy sensors, improved building envelopes and more – we are able to reduce our emissions and move closer to our goal of zero carbon by 2050. At the same time, we’re also able to reduce our energy costs, which is also very important,” Rykal said.
The full list of energy efficiency projects, over the respective lifecycles of the equipment, will save more than 3.4-million kilowatt hours of electricity and more than 248-thousand therms of natural gas. That’s enough energy to power 430 average homes for a full year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator.
The Princeton Review named UW-Stout one of its top “Green Colleges” in 2018. The university is a customer of Xcel Energy, one of the 107 Wisconsin utilities that partner in Focus on Energy. Customers of those utilities are eligible for the energy expertise and financial incentives the Program provides.
A third-party evaluation noted Wisconsin runs the most cost-effective energy efficiency programs in the nation. It also found every $1 invested in Focus on Energy generates more than $5 in benefits for Wisconsin, including economic benefits, reduced pollution and reduced energy costs.
Xcel Energy (Northern States Power)