The first major steps towards sustainability were initiated by the Facilities Management Department at WSU in an attempt to save the University energy and consequently money. In 2006, Facilities Management hired E/S3 Consultants Inc. to complete an Energy Savings and Investment Plan (ESIP) for the University. To complete the plan, E/S3 conducted a survey of Weber State’s energy and water consumption at the Main Campus, Dee Events Center and Davis Campus. The finalized ESIP identified forty-two energy and water saving projects that should be further analyzed by the University. It also provided recommendations on how to fund, manage, and sustain the benefits of the projects proposed.
The ESIP also recommended that Weber State University hire an Energy Resources Manager. The Energy Resources Manager would be tasked with implementing the ESIP, managing the energy and water savings projects, and analyzing and tracking the utilities to ensure continued savings. The University took the advice of E/S3 and Facilities Management hired an Energy Resources Manager in October of 2008.
While the ESIP was helpful in identifying potential energy and water efficiency projects at WSU, it did not provide a detailed analysis of the technical and financial feasibility of the proposed projects. Therefore, in December of 2008, Facilities Management contracted with AMERESCO (an energy services company) to complete an investment grade audit which provided the University with the information necessary to hone in on the most viable and cost-effective energy and water savings projects. In 2009, AMERESCO completed their audit and WSU immediately commenced work on several of the recommended projects.
To date, WSU has completed a number of energy efficiency projects. These projects and programs have reduced the University’s carbon footprint by 8,677 metric tons per year (FY 2007 WSU-controlled emissions = 35,248 metric tons and FY 2010 WSU-controlled emissions = 26,571 metric tons).
In addition to aggressively implementing a number of energy savings projects, Weber State University has made a significant policy commitment to become a carbon neutral university by 2050. This pledge was initiated in 2007 when WSU became an American College and University President’s Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) signatory.
As an ACUPCC signatory, WSU was required to complete a greenhouse gas inventory (submitted in 2008), complete a Climate Action Plan detailing the University’s plans and goals for becoming carbon neutral (adopted and signed by President Ann Millner and the President’s Council in 2009), and initiate two tangible actions (out of a total of seven possible actions) to reduce emissions. Thus far, WSU has initiated three of the possible emissions-reducing actions.
In addition to the numerous efforts being made by WSU to reduce energy consumption and climate impacts, the University has demonstrated that overall campus sustainability is a vital goal in three distinct ways:
- WSU has initiated or completed several projects and programs to reduce water consumption, curb waste generation and promote the use of alternative modes of transportation. For more information, check out the links under "WSU Takes Action!"
- WSU has made it a priority to track its sustainability progress by becoming a participant in the STARS program (Sustainability Tracking Assessment & Rating System) in September of 2010. STARS is a program of AASHE (Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education) and it is intended to rate universities on their sustainability efforts in a uniform manner so that comparisons between universities/colleges can be made.
- In 2010, WSU’s Energy Resources Manager became the University’s Energy and Sustainability Manager. In the fall of 2010, WSU’s Energy and Sustainability Office (housed within the Facilities Management Department) was officially created. The Energy and Sustainability Office currently consists of ten employees: the Energy/Sustainability Manager, two electricians, one plumber, a part-time assistant plumber, a part-time policy/outreach sustainability specialist, a part-time utilities analyst, an event coordinator, and two student hourly sustainability coordinators.