Community College in Orlando Learns to Save Energy

Valencia College, a community college founded in 1967 in Orlando, Florida, has focused strongly on energy efficiency since 2003 due to rising energy costs. Between 1971 and 2012, the college built a total of 66 structures. Six of these buildings—about 25 percent of the college’s total 2.1 million square feet—were constructed to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold standards. Valencia also implemented retrofit projects across all campus buildings that involved upgrading existing lighting and HVAC equipment and installing new chiller plants.

From 2006 to 2011, the school also saw energy savings from the use of building automation systems, which reduced energy usage per square foot by 33 percent. In September 2011, the school adopted energy education guidelines; by February 2012, the energy savings across all campus buildings, measured through utility (electric, water, and gas) invoices against the same six-month period of the previous year, totaled more than $400,000. Mechanical adjustments—such as new sensors, lighting retrofits, and new equipment—resulted in over $20,000 in savings, but $380,000 in savings came from behavioral changes.

The behavioral changes encouraged by the guidelines included everything from turning off electronics when not in use to cleaning out and unplugging refrigerators over school breaks. By March 2013, just 18 months after the adoption of the school’s energy education guidelines, savings attributable to the energy education effort had risen to $1.3 million.

For more information, read the article from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, Energy Efficiency at Valencia College: A Case Study of Retrofits and Building Automation, Green Construction, and Behavioral Savings.

Content last reviewed: 
02/09/2016