Eighty percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions come from combusting fossil fuels to generate energy, including electricity. We need to do our part toward reducing energy consumption. Achieving this goal will require accelerating the implementation of energy conservation projects, targeting older and less efficient buildings for deep retrofits, and ensuring all new buildings meet the UW Green Building Standard to minimize water and energy consumption. The expanded use of utility metering and monitoring based commissioning will keep buildings operating optimally.

Water conservation

UW will monitor opportunities to reduce water consumption for new building construction, maintenance and irrigation. In collaboration with academic units, UW Facilities will explore paths to research the feasibility of enhancing water reduction through the use of new technologies or integration into campus planning.

Target actions for 2021

Sustainability plan guiding principles

  •  Ensure students achieve sustainability literacy
  •  Choose our research conscientiously
  •  Keep equity and inclusion at the center
  •  Use resources responsibly
  •  Decarbonize

In 2015, comprehensive energy engineering audits of 112 campus buildings identified energy conservation opportunities requiring $25 million of capital investment but avoiding $5 million in energy waste annually. Once the initial $25 million capital investment is made, additional conservation investments can be pursued at $5 million/yr, resulting in optimization to the built environment by 2025 operating at least 15% more efficiently than the 2015 baseline audit condition. Once optimized the building stock will be monitored (see Expand Campus Meter Monitor O&M Program below) both to insure persistence of the energy cost avoidance, and to identify additional conservation opportunities.

Steps we will take in FY 2021

  1. Execute 17 minor conservation projects in 32 campus buildings avoiding an estimated $1 million annual utility cost (starting mid FY22). Estimated capital cost will be $3.2M, of which $1.6 million can be recovered in utility rebates.

  2. Begin initial design, permitting and equipment procurement for a Phase II expansion of the West Campus Utility Plant. This project will pilot seasonal hot water energy transfer to a select group of high-EUI buildings in west and south campus, using a new, 1,300-ton heat recovery chiller.

  3. Conduct in-house energy engineering analysis in coordination with the One Capital Plan and other initiatives to identify one or more co-funding opportunities for a major renovation or deep retrofit in FY2022-FY2023, that can support future revolving fund revenues.

Responsible party

UW Facilities Asset Management

Statuses and linkages

From 2015 to present, the resource conservation program has invested $5 million in 32 projects capturing $2.2 million in utility rebates and avoiding $624,000 in annual utility cost. These past and future building efficiency activities incrementally bring the campus into compliance with Washington State Clean Buildings Code, City of Seattle Benchmarking and Tune-up Ordinances. These Actions also support the overarching initiative to meet State greenhouse gas reduction targets (see Target X below).

Future investments must be coordinated and augmented with the One Capital Plan, facility preservation fund and program renewal investment funds. Additionally, resource conservation investments must be coordinated with self-sustaining units’ capital investment programs.


A centralized energy management revolving investment fund has been conceptually approved by senior leadership. Currently, the detailed design of the fund is underway. Assuming the conceptual intent is borne out in the detailed design and approved by UW decision makers, the revolving fund will be seeded with sufficient funding to generate future revenue.

For Phase II expansion of the West Campus Utility Plant, an ongoing feasibility study suggests a $1.2M utility cost avoidance on an $8M capital investment. $1.8 million of the initial investment is required in FY2021.


  • Net energy usage intensity (EUI) reduction (weather and gross square footage use intensity normalized).

  • Return on investment (lifetime utility cost avoided/net value invested).

  • Simple payback (net capital invested/annual utility cost avoided).

This action may impact STARS credits OP-2 Greenhouse Gas Emissions where UW shows a points gap of 3.91, and OP-5 Building Energy Efficiency where UW shows a points gap of 2.16.

Formalize and fully fund the UW Facilities Meter Monitor Program. Hire a full time program manager, and modernize data collection technology. Formalize, document and begin automation of program business processes, measures and outputs. Track and report key performance indicators no less than quarterly.

Steps we will take in FY 2021

  1. Fund $250k to purchase, configure, and document equipment, and train UW Facilities operators. Existing staff time will be turned toward new information technology hardware and software per May 11, 2020 recommendations by the UW Meter Monitor Team. Operationalize the Meter Monitor Program’s “MBCx process“ in seven additional campus buildings.

  2. Fund $250k in on-going annual program operations & maintenance, hire a Meter Monitor Program Manager, operationalize MBCx process in 14 buildings by end of FY2021.

  3. Conduct analysis for future Meter Monitor investment strategy, including investments in additional steam and water meters at all state funded buildings.

Responsible party

UW Facilities Asset Management

Statuses and linkages

The Meter Monitor Program is an extension of a American Recovery and Reinvestment Act legacy Smart Grid program.

In addition to ensuring the persistence of utility costs avoided by the Action Implement Cost Effective Conservation Investments above, this Action is an early contributor to the Portfolio Management Strategy that is a UW Facilities strategic priority for FY2021. This Action will significantly improve UW Facilities operational and maintenance efficiency.


Financing for this Action is shared with Action Implement Cost Effective Conservation Investments above.

Step 3 will likely identify a funding gap in the $6 million to $7 million range for some metering equipment that cannot be fully covered with the associated return on investment.


  • Maintenance of net EUI reduction over time.

  • Reduction of annual Operations and Maintenance cost, divided by work order cost of implementing target EUI outcome.

This action may induce indirect points gains in STARS credits OP-4 Building Operations and Maintenance where UW shows a point gap of 3.50, and OP-5 Building Energy Efficiency where UW shows a point gap of 2.16.

A large percent of building operations energy utilization comes from appliances and other building related equipment. In accordance with the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 (EPCA), as amended, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) implements minimum efficiency standards for a wide range of appliances and equipment used in residential and commercial buildings. These federal efficiency standards compel product designers and manufacturers to reduce the amount of energy and water necessary for the proper operation of appliances and other building equipment. The voluntary Energy Star Program, jointly administered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is the most widely recognized symbol for energy efficiency in the world and promotes products that are even more energy efficient than those that meet the minimum federal standards. The University’s commitment to energy conservation includes ensuring Energy Star certified appliances and equipment requirements are incorporated into the University’s Facilities Design Guide and Procurement Policies.

Steps we will take in FY 2021

  1. Develop regular communications highlighting Procurement guidelines for Energy Star purchasing requirements.

  2. Develop annual reporting for Energy Star appliances.

  3. Work with UW Facilities and HFS to promote Energy Star appliances for all new buildings.

Responsible party

Procurement Services and UW Facilities Finance & Administration

Statuses and linkages

Procurement Services promotes environmentally preferred purchasing (EPP) as defined by the National Associate of Educational Procurement, meaning that environmental and social considerations are “taken with equal weight to the price, availability and performance criteria that colleges and universities use to make purchasing decisions.”

The University’s buying staff leverage current supplier relationships to raise awareness of the purchasing considerations necessary to reduce our environmental impact and to maximize resource efficiency.

In order to further the University’s commitment to sustainability, individual departments are encouraged to purchase recycled and environmentally preferable products, when quality, performance and price are comparable to alternatives.

Procurement works with manufacturers and Seattle City Light to identify equipment subject to Seattle City Light energy rebates.


No additional financing needed in FY 2021.


  • Percentage of Energy Star appliance purchases compared to total spend on a quarterly basis.

This action may impact STARS credit OP-5 Building Energy Efficiency where UW shows a points gap of 2.16.