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Universities Save Switching from Steam to Hot Water

Two universities in California and another in British Columbia are switching their energy systems from steam-powered to hot-water powered in hopes of saving money in operational and energy costs while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

An article on the Environment & Energy Publishing website profiles the universities’ efforts to change. The three schools are each in different stages of the conversion — the University of British Columbia’s Vancouver campus hopes to complete the conversion by the end of the year and, according to that article, anticipates saving $5.5 million in operational and energy costs, and reduce emissions by more than 22 percent. Stanford University completed a project in March that eliminated fossil fuels from campus and reduced emissions in half. The University of California at Davis is now also exploring the steam-to-hot water option.

The article also considers the role that large institutional and commercial facilities such as universities play in new energy efficiency and sustainability projects. A 2005 article in the Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association indicated that the country’s institutions of higher learning account for about 2 percent of the total annual U.S. carbon emissions.

“I don't think we can say it’s driving the market by itself, but in conjunction with other sectors often doing the same thing, higher education plays an important role,” Juilan Dautremont-Smith, the director of programs for the Association for the Advancement of Sustainablity in Higher Education, told Environment & Energy. “The cool thing that separates higher education from virtually all other sectors is that all future leaders of our society — policymakers, architects, business leaders, etc. — go through an institution of higher education, so there's a huge opportunity there to ensure those graduates understand sustainability and are equipped with the skills to solve sustainability challenges.”

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