Athens, Ga. – Federal stimulus dollars will once again be flowing to the University of Georgia, this time to upgrade energy systems and make them more efficient. The university has been awarded $5,942,845 for utility system improvements at its main campus in Athens, its extended campus in Griffin, and its Marine Institute facility on Sapelo Island.
The state is awarding a total of $63.1 million in grants as part of the State Facilities Retrofit Program, with funding provided by the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. UGA won funding for eight of the 135 projects that were selected statewide.
“These grants come at a particularly opportune time,” said Tim Burgess, senior vice president for finance and administration. “The cost of utilities has skyrocketed in recent years at the same time that we have added a significant amount of facility space. Yet, we continue to control costs through conservation and systems improvements. These grant awards will allow us to extend our cost-saving efforts, with energy savings projected for many years to come.”
The projects identified for funding at UGA sites can be grouped into the broad categories of enhanced air conditioning controls, more efficient interior lighting systems, and replacement of steam insulation. Approximately $4.5 million of the funds will be spent on the Athens campus, with the remainder dedicated to projects at Griffin and Sapelo.
“The university’s projects being funded through this program are expected to generate substantial energy savings as they become fully operational,” said Ralph Johnson, associate vice president for the physical plant. “The need to demonstrate an appropriate payback period was one of the criteria in the grant competition.”
Other criteria included impact on job growth and retention, immediate impact in energy savings, and quick implementation. All UGA projects approved through this process will begin within the next six months and be completed by March 2012.
“The university is working toward a goal of reducing energy consumption by 15 percent by the year 2020,” said Ken Crowe, UGA’s energy director. “That’s a goal established by the Governor’s Energy Challenge based on FY 2007 data, and for the first two years, UGA has made sufficient progress toward achieving this goal. These stimulus projects will enable us to accelerate our efforts and meet the challenge two or three years earlier than expected.”