Despite steady growth, Texas A&M University has reduced its water and energy consumption. Since 1992, the university has decreased its total annual water consumption by 53%. Annual energy consumption has been reduced by 20% since 2003.
“Over the past decade, we have completely changed our way of thinking about water and energy efficiency,” says Jim Riley, Texas A&M director for utilities Jim. “Water and energy are precious resources, and even if they are available, we don’t want to use more than we have to.”
The energy and water reductions were achieved through both operational changes and improvements in the university’s facilities.
The reduction in energy use alone has reduced the university’s carbon footprint by 338 million pounds and saved the university approximately $50 million in energy costs.
To reduce water requirements, Texas A&M replaced plumbing fixtures with low-flow options, improved management of campus irrigation systems, and improved campus plumbing to minimize leaks and make them easier to fix.
Riley says, “With the new operational improvements, we do a much better job of preventing leaks, and when they do occur, we can isolate and repair them more promptly.”
The university also invites students to participate in its quest. The Office of Energy Management at Texas A&M includes an energy-saving tip in each day’s university e-mail news service. They also list energy tips on their Web site: http://energy.tamu.edu/.
Students also help reduce energy consumption by competing in the “Residence Hall Energy Challenge” between campus residence halls to find out which hall could produce the largest utilities reductions.
Despite success, Texas A&M is not done with energy and water conservation. Officials hope to further improve water efficiency by reusing water from its wastewater treatment plant. Reusing this water for non-potable systems would decrease the amount of water that must be pumped from the ground.