Containing YSU’s carbon footprint

When tracking the carbon footprint at Youngstown State University, researchers take various sources of emissions into account. Electricity, natural gas, waste and construction all contribute to carbon activity.

Bill Haas, assistant director of facilities at YSU, said electricity is one of the most important aspects of the carbon footprint on campus.

Over the weeks of the fall semester, YSU’s campus has emitted 13,977,936 kWh of greenhouse gases through electricity.

According to the calculator on the Environmental Protection Agency’s website, YSU’s electrical usage emits enough carbon dioxide to provide electricity for 1,205 houses a year. The university also accounts for 1,080,557 gallons of gasoline consumed and 22,415 barrels of oil.

Haas said that saving energy is something that most members of the YSU community should always be aware of.

“Energy is important because the more you conserve, the longer it will last and the cheaper it will ultimately be. The more you save, the more you’ll be affecting your bottom line,” Haas said.

Haas said even the smallest gesture such as turning a light off or shutting a computer down can contribute to saving energy.

“The electricity usage is the factor that everyone can control the most,” Haas said. “It’s just the right thing to do.”

In 2012, the university spent $3,131,130.61 on electricity to provide lighting for classrooms, labs, facilities and lounges.

YSU took action to cut costs and gas emissions by partnering with Johnson Controls for a 10-year contract. The agreement has been in effect since 2007.

David Gaffney, energy performance engineer for Johnson Controls, elaborated on the efficiency of the contract.

He said YSU paid roughly $10 million for equipment upgrades associated with the performance contract.

Johnson Controls has guaranteed $1.3 million toward the annual utility bill. Through the first five years of the 10-year guarantee, the guaranteed savings amount has been achieved each year.

“Over the 10-year period, [Johnson Controls] has guaranteed YSU will see a savings of $13 million because of reduced energy consumption,” Gaffney said.

Johnson Controls updated many inefficient pieces of equipment across campus including lighting, chillers and devices. The equipment is essential when steam is used as a heating source.

YSU is billed for steam usage in units of mlb; each mlb is 1,000 pounds of steam. In 2012, the university has spent $2,786,177.66 on steam to keep its campus warm during fall and winter.

Andrew Kunkel, a senior at YSU, said he’s glad the university has already taken steps to become more eco-friendly and cost-efficient.

“If we don’t take steps toward reducing greenhouse gases, the environment will not be forgiving. I’m glad to see there’s a conscious effort to make better choices when dealing with energy. I still think we can all do better,” Kunkel said.