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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

Energy efficiency measures at URI to save
1 million Kwh annually

KINGSTON, R.I. -- April 12, 2002 -- In another step to create a "green" campus at the University of Rhode Island and to reduce its $9 million annual utility budget, URI has launched a second phase of energy efficiency measures at its four campuses. Equipment and fixtures installed in 2001 and 2002 will reduce energy consumption by approximately one million kilowatt-hours annually.

Working in cooperation with Narragansett Electric Co. and LightPanel Technologies, URI has become the first university in the country to completely replace all of its exit signs with the most energy-efficient models available.

"You don’t usually think of exit signs as being big energy consumers, but they’re on 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The signs we had in most of our buildings used about 17 watts each, but this new technology uses just one quarter watt, so it will save us about 170,000 kilowatthours of electricity every year," said Stephen Pucino, the URI utilities engineer who is spearheading the energy efficiency program.

Pucino said the light source in the exit signs is a material that glows green when it is electrified – a process called electroluminescence -- and is expected to last more than 30 years without any maintenance. "In addition to the electricity savings, there will be a huge savings in maintenance costs as well."

Next up in Pucino’s energy conservation plan is a replacement of the lighting throughout Crawford Hall, where the original light fixtures have been in place since the building was constructed in the 1960s. Energy savings from this project will be more than 120,000 kilowatthours per year.

"We picked Crawford in part because it was the right size building for the available funds, but also because that’s where Vincent Rose and Stan Barnett, professors in chemical engineering, have offices. They’re the campus’s biggest energy efficiency advocates," Pucino said. "We want to use Crawford Hall as a model for future re-lighting projects all around campus."

In addition to the exit sign and Crawford Hall projects, Pucino is overseeing the installation of energy efficient equipment on the boilers in several Kingston Campus buildings -- saving 4,000 gallons of oil each year -- and the conversion of the heating system at the W. Alton Jones Campus from electric to gas.

Additional efficient equipment is being installed every time a new building is constructed and in all buildings being renovated, including the residence halls, Ballentine Hall and Green Hall. In the new Coastal Institute in Kingston, efficient lighting, occupancy sensors, and heat pumps were installed.

Funding for many of these measures came from a $250,000 loan from the State Energy Revolving Loan Fund, but Narragansett Electric also provides incentives. The exit signs, for instance, cost $133,000 to purchase and install, but Narragansett provided a $46,000 rebate. Coupled with $10,000 in projected annual savings in maintenance expenses and the reductions in energy costs, that project will have a payback of just five years.

The Convocation Center is a special case, said Pucino. Energy efficient equipment -- including a super-efficient 600-ton air conditioning unit, 200 compact fluorescent light bulbs, and efficient motors with variable speed drives on a variety of other equipment – was included in the building’s design. While the cost of the equipment was higher than standard models, Narragansett Electric paid for 90 percent of the price difference and the building will use 380,000 kilowatthours less energy each year than if standard equipment were installed.

URI’s first energy conservation initiatives occurred in the 1980s when energy management systems were installed in many buildings and efficient lighting was installed in most of the residence halls. The current projects are using newer technologies that will further reduce energy consumption while improving comfort levels and reducing maintenance.

"My goal is a 30 percent reduction in energy usage from 2000 levels," said Pucino. "Ideally, I’d like to reinvest the electric company rebates into more energy conservation measures and keep the savings going. That will provide an even bigger return to the university."

Pucino said that the success of the current energy initiatives were the result of a team effort. He especially credits Dave Murray of Narragansett Electric, Tim Howe in the State Energy Office, and Jerry Sidio, URI’s new facilities manager who came to the University from the Tucson School District where he directed the installation of numerous energy efficiency measures.

For Information: Stephen Pucino 874 5599, Todd McLeish 874-7892

*Exit Light image from LightPanel Technologies.

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