Facilities Department plans to minimize energy consumption


Photo by Xanthe Schaub - Reporter

The university’s electrical consumption expenses have increased in the past year. Heating and cooling will be reduced in classrooms.

Xanthe Schaub, Reporter

The Facilities Operations & Planning, or Facilities, Department at California Lutheran University is initiating plans that attempt to minimize energy consumption on campus. 

“We are hoping to cut 10% of the costs we are currently facing and get our electricity expenses down to under $2 million,” Associate Vice President of Facility Operations & Planning Ryan Van Ommeren said. 

According to Van Ommeren, the Facilities Department has taken further action with the heating, ventilation and air conditioning team in order to cut back on electricity by scheduling times in order to reduce the running hours.

“The HVAC team’s running electricity schedule was two hours before classes and an hour after classes every day. For a variety of reasons, we have reduced that to one hour on either side which will be relatively dramatic,” Van Ommeren said. 

With this new change coming into play, Van Ommeren confirmed that this will not impact the students at Cal Lutheran. Van Ommeren said classrooms will be having more fresh air come through, although this new system has caused more units to break down faster. 

“The HVAC team themselves is going over the different units, and they will sense what the temperature outside is and call for cooling. The HVAC unit then knows that we can pull the air from outside so we don’t have to run the cooling systems,” Van Ommeren said. 

Additionally, an email sent to the Cal Lutheran community by Van Ommeren on Feb. 3 said that staff and faculty should avoid personal item electrical usage on campus, such as mini-fridges, microwaves and office refrigerators. 

“The first big step we are taking is reducing the time we heat and cool our buildings and continuing to manage our campus established set point range of 68-74 degrees. We have set a goal to reduce our usage by 5% as a start,” Facilities and Infrastructure Project Manager Nick Boudreaux said in an email interview. 

Boudreaux said that with classrooms getting impacted by this new system, students who have early classes may experience a colder temperature than normal.

“An example for this is now the heater will turn on at 7:00 a.m. compared to 6:00 a.m. and classrooms might be a little colder than normal because the heater might not have “caught up” by the time students arrive given it has an hour less to reach temp setpoint,” Boudreaux said. 

With the electricity rates escalating over the past year, Boudreaux said the university’s plan to reduce the time the buildings are air-conditioned will help the overall usage of the overall campus.

According to Boudreaux, the newer HVAC systems that have been installed will be faster in time when reaching temperatures. 

“A good note is that the newer HVAC systems we are installing take less time to reach temp because they have more control of supply output and fan speed,” Boudreaux said. 

Boudreaux said upcoming developments the Facilities Department plans are replacing the parking lot lights on campus with LED lights. 

“Our new parking lot light options have a better lumen output while also using significantly less wattage,” Boudreaux said.