Office of Sustainability – University of Notre Dame

I have written previously about my good fortune in being able to spend a full week this fall, with my best bud of almost 30 years Harvey, in and around the campus of the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana.

We have also written many, many, many different articles about home energy conservation, including our Un-Official Guide to Home Energy Conservation.

What’s the likelihood that there can be a connection between the two seemingly unrelated topics?

Well, there is.

In researching energy conservation as well as the Fighting Irish, I came across the web site for the Office of Sustainability of the University of Notre Dame.

According to the web site:

“The University of Notre Dame Office of Sustainability integrates sustainability principles across all operational areas of the university and collaborates with relevant sustainability education and research programs across each of the colleges to drive outcomes that are aligned with our overall university mission and vision.”

Interestingly, they have developed goals in seven different areas to measure the results from their efforts, including: Power Generation; Design and Construction; Transportation, Waste Reduction; Procurement; Food Services; and, Water.

Established in January 2008, the Office, per their web site, strives to “…integrate sustainability principles across all operational areas of the university and collaborate with relevant sustainability education and research programs across each of the colleges to drive outcomes that are aligned with our overall university mission and vision. ”

Of the above seven areas, I was drawn to Design and Construction page as one area which could provide energy conservation ideas for the average home. The goal within this area is to build ”…appealing, efficient, durable, cost-effective, and environmentally responsible facilities”.

With the Office of the University Architect overseeing the design and construction of new buildings at Notre Dame, I was very please to see that LEED certification is being pursued for “…all the buildings currently under construction or in planning and design…” which currently, can be grouped as follows:

  • the 5 buildings currently under construction, including the Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center, and
  • the 2 buildings currently in planning and design, including the new Ice Hockey Arena

For those of you who are not familiar with the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), simply scroll down to our Energy Conservation Sites area in our blog roll and select the Green Guide link to a plethora of information on green home designs, LEED, etc.

I did find on the Office of Sustainability web site information on initiatives to retrofit existing buildings specifically for energy conservation related drivers such as reduction in heating and electricity consumption over in the Power Generation area.

The goal of the power generation component is “…to develop a portfolio of demand reduction and energy supply options that leads to long-term greenhouse gas emission reductions.”, with the carbon dioxide emission reduction initiatives being grouped into the categories of (A) energy conservation and (B) energy decarbonization (using cleaner energy).

The current fiscal year sees energy conservation related upgrades to 24 buildings (including Flanner Hall, Hesburgh Library, Hesburgh Peace Center, McKenna Hall and the North Dining Hall) in the current fiscal year to reduce by over 4,000 metric tons annually the University’s carbon emissions, costing $4 million with a targeted financial payback within 8 years.

These upgrades include occupancy sensors for heating, cooling and lighting, replacing incandescent lighting with compact fluorescent bulbs, among other energy conservation related building upgrades. Specifically mentioned is the LED lighting in the Hesburgh Library elevator lobby to achieve an 81% energy use reduction and six outdoor light poles in the central campus area near the Main building to achieve a 50%+ energy usage reduction.

Hopefully I’ll be able to notice these during our planned visit to the campus this fall.

There is much that is underway at the University of Notre Dame regarding energy conservation. Do spend a few minutes or more at the Office of Sustainability’s web site to learn more about these efforts, and see which could be doable in your own home to help you in reducing your own family’s domestic energy consumption.

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