CSU Dominguez Hills Takes a Bite Out of Climate Change
As the energy manager of California State University, Dominguez Hills, Kenny Seeton is focused on projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. He knows the effect these emissions have on the environment and why it is so critical to reduce them. He hopes that in five years or so, the university can stop burning gas altogether.
The university took a significant step toward reducing its GHG emissions this year. Through a series of projects funded through Southern California Edison’s Clean Energy Optimization Pilot, Seeton helped the campus reduce its GHG emissions by 17.5%. These reductions also came with an incentive payout of more than $1 million.
The majority of the GHG reductions came from replacing two chillers. Chillers are typically used in larger buildings and facilities to provide cold air. The old chillers used gas to create cold water that was used to create cold air; the new chillers run on electricity. Not only has the university reduced GHG emissions, it also saved money.
“The electric chillers are much more efficient than the gas absorption chillers we had and by replacing them, we’ve seen terrific utility bill savings,” said Seeton. “So far, we are using 65% less gas and only 7% more electricity because of the energy efficiency.”
In addition to replacing the chillers, Seeton completed several other projects, such as upgrading building lights to LEDs with sensors that can tell when a room is occupied. These sensors were integrated with newly installed DDC air-conditioning controls, which means the air conditioning also turns off when the room is no longer occupied. The DDC controls offer greater regulation of temperatures between various areas in a building. It also allows Seeton to run the chiller less, which saves money.
Four other universities — UC Irvine Medical Center, UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara and California State Polytechnic University, Pomona — that participated in the pilot program also implemented measures that resulted in GHG emission reductions. In the first year of the pilot, the campuses reduced emissions by 4.79%, 2.88%, 2.86% and 3.29%, respectively. Over the lifetime of the universities’ projects, the emission reductions will equal 56,988 metric tons. This equates to the amount of carbon sequestered by about 75,270 acres of U.S. forest in one year.
Since the pilot program spans four years, Seeton said the plan is to reinvest the money they received from the first-year results into other GHG projects, such as updating more than 800 exterior lights campus-wide with LED lights and controls, upgrading lighting and controls in another building and more. Future plans include solar rooftops and hopefully more energy storage.
The electric chillers are much more efficient than the gas absorption chillers we had and by replacing them, we’ve seen terrific utility bill savings. So far, we are using 65% less gas and only 7% more electricity because of the energy efficiency.”Kenny Seeton, Energy Manager, Cal State Dominguez Hills
In addition to all these projects to help reduce GHG emissions and save money, Seeton is looking at how the university can focus more of its electricity use on off-peak times of the day.
“I was never really aware that all electricity isn’t equal, that the electricity in the afternoon has less GHG emissions than the electricity at 5 p.m.,” said Seeton. “Most people don’t really think about why on- and off-peak times are so important, but it’s because there is so much solar in the middle of the day. It is critical to find out how to focus electricity use on these times.”
The four-year CEOP program is a first-of-its-kind, performance-based, GHG reduction program. Success is measured on GHG emissions avoided, rather than the standard method of measuring reduced energy use. This approach rewards seven University of California and California State University campuses for focusing on actions that help the environment the most.
The collective effort is designed to reduce GHG emissions while lowering costs. It represents a major step in creating repeatable solutions to counter climate change. Reducing emissions from the use of fossil fuels is critical to addressing and mitigating climate impacts as outlined in SCE’s Pathway 2045 blueprint for achieving carbon-neutrality.