Campus technology innovations: achieving resiliency with modern funding

R. Garcia, D. Naccarato
Johnson Controls,
United States

Keywords: higher education, solar power, energy storage, renewable energy, battery storage, performance contracting, net-zero


With often limited state funding and lack of financial resources, modern improvements and the implementation of energy-efficient technologies can seem out of reach for campus leaders. In this session, attendees will learn how today’s colleges and universities can achieve a more updated, resilient campus while reducing their carbon footprint and energy expenditures. By partnering with an operator and realizing modern funding resources, higher education institutions can upgrade their facilities without disrupting their budget. These savings can be reinvested back into additional campus upgrades and student resources, creating a better experience for students and faculty. The University of Hawai’i (UH) Maui College and four community colleges across O’ahu realized the need to address their energy consumption and expenditure. Realizing that the annual amount spent could be repurposed into additional upgrades for students and faculty to benefit from, campus leaders partnered with Johnson Controls and Pacific Current to determine and accomplish their energy efficiency goals. The path to achieving these goals laid in energy performance contracts. This budget-neutral approach is low risk, provided that upgrades are secured at no upfront cost, and if the predetermined savings are not met, the operator realizes full financial responsibility. The state-of-the-art, energy-efficient systems and technologies that were installed were compensated with the annual cost savings guaranteed at the start of the project. Upgrades across the campuses reduced their fossil fuel use by 70-98 percent, driving approximately $79M in savings over a 20-year period and deferred maintenance being reduced by nearly $20 million. Additionally, UH Maui College officially earned its title of the first US campus capable of generating 100 percent of its energy needs on-site through renewable energy, aligning with the goal of its leaders to reach net-zero by 2035. The ambition of UH Maui College to seek these alternative funding methods to drive its capital and reduce its energy consumption provides an excellent example for campus leaders seeking similar actions. With modern funding approaches, institutions can navigate limited funding without needing to raise tuitions or take on high-interest loans, enabling higher education institutions like UH to invest in state-of-the-art equipment to reduce energy consumption and associated costs. By saving valuable capital expense dollars that can be redirected elsewhere, energy efficiency can aid in institutional growth and create a better campus experience, attracting future students and faculty in the process.