Kent State works toward energy efficiency, renewable energy

Caitlin Albright

Kent State is working to conserve energy across all eight campuses by retrofitting lighting, replacing air handlers and installing energy efficient utility devices as well as utilizing renewable energy where possible.

Financially, energy conservation is beneficial to the university.

“Essentially, the university saves money when we conserve energy because we don’t have to buy electricity or natural gas from our suppliers,” said Michael Bruder, executive director of facilities planning and design.

The university implemented a program, which enlisted the help of a contractor to make improvements on buildings across campus, including energy efficient upgrades on heating and cooling systems and lighting systems.

“The money that we would have spent for energy that we save every year pays off a loan to do that work with the contractor,” Bruder said. “After that loan is paid off, we just continue to have those energy savings.”

The university has invested roughly $50 million so far in renovations, including lighting retrofits, air handling replacements and efficient boilers across all Kent State campuses.

In 2014, the university installed solar panels on the field house roof for a renewable energy source.

Joe Clark, faculty advisor for the Kent State Environmental Society, said he was delighted to see the university working toward energy efficiency, especially for renewable energy.

“It can be difficult to find funds for such projects, and getting support for them can be tricky, so I applaud these efforts,” Clark said.

Sara Lawler, a senior environmental conservation biology major, looked to other universities for inspiration.

“I think solar panels and motion sensor lighting would be a great addition to have all around campus,” she said. “It’s proven both energy and financially efficient in schools across the country.”

One of the biggest requests is environmental education, Clark said.

“Outreach and education of students, staff and faculty is probably one of the biggest things that can be done to reduce our environmental impact,” Clark said.

Lawler suggests covering environmental issues in the First Year Experience course or mandating a course in student’s curriculum about environmental conservation.

“It’s no question the topic is important, and people need to understand the impacts we have on this planet,” Lawler said.

Caitlin Albright is the construction, safety and transportation reporter. Contact her at [email protected].