Q&A - July 22, 2016

Energy efficiency—just a few decades ago it was a radical idea, but now, it has become a featured selling point of almost every product and service we buy. Diligent shoppers used to concern themselves only with unit prices, but now we have many other factors to consider like the effect of a product on the environment or how well it saves resources.

It seems like just shopping for a light bulb anymore can require hours of exhaustive research. But changing mindsets and wasteful behaviors is important. Recycling as much as possible, setting thermostats a few degrees higher or lower, turning off lights and unplugging appliances; these small actions can have a big impact on our environment and our utility bills.

Many of the phenomenal advancements in technology and energy usage have made it possible for large institutions, like universities, to save millions of dollars by making a few simple changes. With this submission, I would like to talk about how OSUIT has saved money by being more energy conscious. And in the spirit of conservation, I have even used 25 fewer words in producing my column this week.

Q: How is OSUIT conserving energy and in turn saving money?

For the past several years, OSUIT has made energy conservation a priority on campus. The technology has progressed to allow for more energy efficient lighting, water saving fixtures, and programmable thermostats that are systematically being retrofitted in buildings all across the OSUIT campus. The waterline replacement project that was completed in late 2014 also helped in our annual utility cost savings. Each of these energy efficiency standards are also being put in place in the new OSUIT student housing project now underway in downtown Okmulgee.

I’m so proud of our campus, especially our Physical Plant employees and Safety and Energy Management Director Stanley Teague who, in just the last six months, have been recognized three times for outstanding energy saving efforts. OSUIT was named a PSO Peak Performer in 2014 and 2015. In April, OSUIT was recognized with a $1 Million Energy Reduction Award from OSU Stillwater, and most recently, Teague was honored as Energy Manager of the Year from PSO.

OSUIT has saved 1.7 million kWh in energy, collected $185,000 in PSO rebates, and saved over a million dollars in energy costs by participating in PSO's Energy Efficiency programs. The savings incurred from our energy efficiency measures have been critical during this recent state budget crisis. Savings through energy management have allowed these dollars to be used for other projects and may have even saved jobs.

As an institution of higher education, we are obligated to be good stewards of our university and our environment and to set a standard for our students, staff, and faculty to follow. By making energy efficiency and conservation a priority on campus, we are encouraging our community to make it a priority in their lives as well.

Please forward your additional comments and questions to osuit-president@okstate.edu.