The ‘green’ screen

As Ohio drafts a plan for more efficient energy usage, the university’s consumption and costs are on the rise

Graphic by Katherine Smidansky

In the midst of Ohio University’s drafting a plan to establish a pattern of sustainable energy use, recent numbers suggest the institution is trending toward increased consumption in several areas.

A full report of OU’s Sustainability Plan, which will provide benchmarks and information gearing toward less energy usage, will be completed by June, said Annie Laurie Cadmus, director of the Office of Sustainability, in a statement. 
Though there will be no definite starting date for the plan, some of the drafted benchmarks have target completion dates set before the end of 2012.

“The institution’s energy consumption is dependent upon our individual perceived needs,” Cadmus said. “Many times, we consume energy when it, quite honestly, is unnecessary for successful implementation of our daily activities.”

The Post obtained records for consumption and costs of fuel and utilities at OU’s Athens campus between 2009 and 2011.

Water and Electricity

Water usage has gone up slightly during the 2010–11 academic year, increasing by 166 kilogallons and costing the university about $30,000.

In total water consumption, two types of buildings stood out in terms of average usage, with residence halls consuming about 28 percent and dining halls using about 7 percent. The remaining 65 percent goes to various other buildings throughout campus.

Electricity usage also has increased during the past two years. During the 2010–11 academic year, OU used 1,161,538 more kilowatt-hours than the year before. That translated into an increased cost of $418,105 for the university.

OU used the most electricity during the summer months. In 2009, the most energy was expended during May; in 2010, about 12,000 kilowatt-hours were used during both June and July.

Natural Gas and Coal

Coal has traditionally been burned at OU’s Lausche Heating Plant to help provide heat for the entire campus. Last year, OU consumed almost 2,000 more tons of coal than during the 2009–10 academic year, which led to a $134,091 increase on the school’s bill.

OU announced its plans to run Lausche solely on natural gas for the next five months, saving $60,877, according to previous Post article.
The test will help OU prepare for Lausche’s transition to only natural gas by 2015.

Though natural-gas consumption remained fairly steady between the 2009–10 and 2010–11 academic years, OU purchased additional natural gas this year to prepare for the summer’s trial period.


OU operates two different fueling stations: one on campus near the Facilities Management Buildings and another at OU’s Gordon K. Bush Airport. Fuel usage at the two facilities remained relatively constant during the past two years with two exceptions.

First, 15,334 more gallons of gasoline were consumed at the facilities management station in 2011 than in 2010. That translates to a cost increase of about $116,000, according to records provided by Ron Ritchie, assistant director of Transportation and Parking Services.

The facilities management station also supplies fuel for the city of Athens, said Marty Paulins, director of Transportation and Parking Services, in a statement.

The other outlier occurred in diesel fuel consumption at the airport fueling station, which decreased by 4,266 gallons. Records from Ken Carley, the airport’s director, indicated that the decrease led to savings of $10,357.

However, the university is not the sole consumer of the fuel, he said.

“We sell to (OU), and then we also sell to the general public,” Carley said. “We sell to any transient people who come and go.”

The airport sells various types of fuels: Jet A, 100 Low-Lead, diesel and unleaded gasoline. Overall, the airport fueling station sold 11,597 fewer gallons of fuel during the 2010–11 academic year than in 2009–10.

“We weren’t really making any concerted effort to reduce consumption,” Carley said. “We’re just selling to those entities, and it’s really just based on the demand. If the volume of students in training goes up or down, that’s going to affect their usage.”

OU also is taking steps to reduce the number of vehicles it owns and replace the current fleet with more fuel-efficient vehicles, Paulins said.

In 2007, the university had roughly 440 vehicles compared with its current fleet of 330, he said.

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