Energy-saving initiatives at Johns Hopkins have brought in a huge return on their investment, and made the university even greener. Since hopping aboard BGE's Smart Energy Savers Program in early 2010, Johns Hopkins has accumulated more than $4 million in rebates, according to Ed Kirk, university energy manager.
"In 2009 and before, we weren't really looking at many of our projects from an energy reduction standpoint," Kirk says. "BGE's Smart Energy Savers Program has brought energy conservation to people's attention and has provided incentives for them. The hope is that by getting people to change how they purchase things, and to change how they think about energy, it will be more lucrative for them to make improvements."
Through the program, 250 projects have been implemented at Johns Hopkins to date. Some, such as lighting retrofits and occupancy controls, have been implemented across the board. Others, including air handler retrofits and modifications to existing equipment, have been specific to university divisions. The rebates are earned when a project reduces electricity use more than is required.
The total Johns Hopkins–wide reduction in kilowatt-hours from the start of the program through June 2013 has totaled more than 20 million kWh, which works toward the university's goal of significantly reducing its carbon footprint.
"Twenty million kWh equals about 14,000 metric tons of CO2 per year and $2 million in utility costs that we are saving," Kirk says.
The BGE Smart Energy Savers Program was established in support of the EmPOWER Maryland Energy Efficiency Act of 2008. The goal is to provide Maryland customers with tools to reduce energy use and demand. Rebates (paid for through a Maryland Public Service Commission fee) are used as incentives for businesses and residential customers who take the steps to decrease electricity use.
"Each customer's utility bill has an added fee to it," Kirk says. "We are all contributing to this pool, so we are essentially getting money back from the local utility. Money is being given back to the people who are doing the right thing."
A BGE-designated third party must verify projects involved in the initiative in order to qualify for a rebate.
"The program serves as a way to measure how well we are doing," Kirk says.
The university gets the most money out of large projects that it invests in, but Kirk says there is a cumulative effect from all the smaller efforts being done.
"A mantra that we have is that there isn't a project on any of our campuses that shouldn't qualify for some sort of rebate," he says. "If we are spending about $1 million to do something, whether it is adding, improving, replacing, upgrading, or whatever, we should be able to get a rebate."
The university plans to continue its energy-saving programs into the future. Kirk says that various divisions of the university treat their rebate money differently. Some put it toward the cost of the project to make it more affordable, while others use the money to fund additional energy-saving projects.
"This program is changing how we review all of the energy-saving projects for the university," Kirk says. "We are always looking for ways to increase productivity and comfort on campus, and now, saving energy and reducing greenhouse gases are something that we hope will be part of the way we do business in the future."