Madison building goes green

  • UW-Madison is in the process of a project that will drastically reduce energy consumption in Chamberlin Hall by using more efficient units for heating, cooling and ventilation.
  • This project is one of many the university has implemented in accordance with goals set by Gov. Doyle in 2006 that calls for the reduction of energy consumption in major state buildings.
  • Gov. Doyle's goals have saved the state over $23 million over the past two years and have generated widespread support.

A new project is currently underway at the University of Wisconsin-Madison with the goal of drastically reducing energy consumption in the physics department's Chamberlin Hall.

This project is one of many that UW-Madison has implemented over the past two years in accordance with goals set by Gov. Jim Doyle on April 11, 2006. Doyle released Executive Order 145 in April of 2006, which calls for the reduction of energy consumption in major state buildings.

According to Executive Order 145, in 2006 state-owned facilities cost the state $125 million annually in utility charges alone.

The Order originally had the goal of reducing energy usage in major state buildings from levels in 2005 by at least 10 percent per square foot by the year 2008. By 2010, the goal is to reduce energy usage by 20 percent per square foot from the same 2005 baseline.

Emily Winecke, communications specialist for Wisconsin's Department of Administration, said Doyle's plans for energy reduction were mainly developed in order to reduce costs, diversify the energy supply, create jobs and reduce emissions.

"The projects that have already been completed have been very beneficial," Winecke said. "In fact, for projects and behavioral changes made between 2005 and 2007, we have seen an eight percent drop in energy consumption from the levels in 2005."

Winecke said the completed projects have saved $23 million in energy costs. She anticipates Wisconsin will see another 2 percent reduction of energy consumption from the 2005 baseline by the end of 2008.

According to a March 2008 press release from the governor's office, Doyle furthered his environmental projects by creating the Office of Energy Independence in 2007.

According to the release, goals for this office include generating 25 percent of Wisconsin electricity and 25 percent of fuel for cars and trucks from renewable sources by the year 2025. If this goal is attained, Doyle anticipates that Wisconsin will generate nearly $1 billion for the state's economy.

It is vital that these efforts receive support because Wisconsin does not have fossil fuel resources, said Clay Sterling, education director of Midwest Renewable Energy Association.

MREA is a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization in Custer, Wis. It promotes renewable energy, energy efficiency and sustainable living through education and demonstration.

"Much of the coal, natural gas, liquid petroleum and nuclear material needed to generate electrical power in Wisconsin is imported from other states," Sterling said. "The state could easily reduce its energy consumption by 30 percent through energy efficiency without any significant change in lifestyle."

Faramarz Vakili is the associate director of the UW-Madison physical plant department and program director of the campus We Conserve campaign.

The university's Chamberlin Hall project will replace air units used for heating, air conditioning and ventilation with more efficient units. They estimate this will reduce energy use in the building by 67 percent and will save roughly $900,000 a year in this building alone.

Vakili said they are roughly a year away from completion of the project. Right now they are in the final stages of design and will schedule construction upon the completion of design work.

"Our two primary goals are to reduce energy consumption on campus by 20 percent per square foot by the year 2010 and to encourage our community to be conscious of energy conservation," Vakili said.

The We Conserve campaign focuses on more than just reducing energy consumption. Vakili said there are eight areas of concentration including goals like clean power generation, recycling and water conservation.

Vakili said the university's projects for these eight areas of concern have saved the university more than $5 million annually in the past two and a half years.

"We receive funding through general funds of the university's operating budget and through state funding," Vakili said. "Chamberlin, for example, will cost $3.7 million and is funded by the state."

Vakili said taxpayers fund state operations and should know when the state is doing something that benefits their pocketbooks as well as the environment.

"It is important to celebrate successful activities," Vakili said. "This encourages people to become involved and to take matters into their own hands in order to combat global warming and energy issues."