Energy & Emissions

Notre Dame is actively addressing the challenge of reducing carbon dioxide emissions stemming from power generation, with the goal of reducing campus carbon emissions by 50% per square foot by 2030.  These initiatives fall into three categories: 
  • Energy conservation infrastructure (investing in more efficient technology)
  • Behavior change programs (educating and incentivizing the campus community to save energy)
  • Energy decarbonization (using cleaner energy)

Energy Conservation Infrastructure

Building Upgrades: ECM I, ECM II and ECM III

The multi-year Energy Conservation Measures (ECM) program continues to implement energy efficiency technology in existing campus buildings, with expected efficiencies ranging from 10-20% at each building. 

The technologies employed in the ECM program include 

  • Efficient lighting
  • Occupancy sensors
  • Variable speed air handling units
  • Direct digital controls
  • And improvement of the HVAC systems on campus. 

The first phase of this program retrofitted 25 buildings in 2008-2010 at a cost of $4 million, reducing electricity use by over 5.2 million kWh, and steam and chilled water by over 30,000 MMBTU, equating to a 4,000 MTCO2e reduction. 

In ECM II, implemented in 2011-2013 in 55 buildings, ECM I strategies were continued, but efforts expanded into new areas. These included installing LED lighting in exit signs, reducing the flow rates of fume hoods, and replacing motors and pumps with high-efficiency models. ECM II  yielded an annual savings of over $1 million and reduced campus carbon dioxide emissions by 14,900 tons each year.  

ECM III, begun in 2014, will be concluded in early 2016.  Once again, the basic strategies of ECM I and II were utilized, with additional efforts in new areas such as variable speed air compressors, high-bay LED lighting, energy metering, laboratory ventilation reductions and computerized building performance analysis using "big data" techniques.  ECM III will result in an estimated reduction in campus carbon dioxide emissions of 12,000 tons per year. Investment in the first three ECM phases totaled nearly $13 million, roughly equal to the amount of savings generated through FY15, providing an overall return on investment of 15% annually.  

ECM IV, to be launched in 2016, is currently in the final stages of planning, including building retro-commissioning, solar photovoltaic, hydroelectric and geothermal heating/cooling projects.

LED Light Standards

Since September 2009, the University has retrofitted over 1200 outdoor light standards with LED lamps, resulting in reduced carbon dioxide emissions of about 450 tons per year.  As part of ECM IV, the University will retrofit another 300 outdoor light standards, completing the conversion of all existing campus exterior lighting to LED.  LEDs are now the campus standard for new lamp posts going forward.   Notre Dame joined the LED University program in 2008, an international community of universities working to accelerate the adoption of energy-efficient LED lighting.Building Upgrades: ECM I, ECM II, and ECM III. 

Thermostat Set-Point Program

For buildings that have digitally controlled heating and cooling, sensors maintain each room's temperature between 70° and 75° during occupied time, but allow it to fluctuate within that range.  Allowing the temperature to fluctuate rather than trying to maintain an exact temperature reduces energy use by minimizing the use of mechanical systems.  Those faculty, staff and students who are not in digitally controlled buildings are asked to keep residential, office and classroom temperatures below 75° during the heating season and within the 70° to 75° range during the cooling season.

Green Buildings

Geddes Hall, Ryan Hall, Carole Sandner Hall, Purcell Pavilion, Stinson-Remick Hall and the Morris Inn have received LEED Gold Certification; Innovation Park, Compton Family Ice Arena, and the Stayer Center for Executive Education have received LEED Silver Certification. These certification included multiple credits for energy efficiency. 

GreeNDiscovery

The now completed greeNDiscovery program was designed to reduce Notre Dame’s carbon footprint by promoting energy efficiency in research laboratories, the most energy intensive areas on campus.  

Dorm Energy Competition

Megawatt Madness is the annual dorm energy competition which challenges all 29 dorms to reduce their energy as much as possible. A real-time energy dashboard allows residents to see exactly how much energy their dorm is using at a given time and allows them to see how they stack up against their competitors. Students are encouraged to get competitive and find creative ways to conserve energy by minimizing their use of electronics, taking shorter showers, and turning down their thermostats. 

Energy Decarbonization

Over the last several years, the Notre Dame Power Plant has burned a greater percentage of natural gas versus coal, with the result that the carbon intensity of our energy has been declining. In the fall of 2015, President Jenkins announced that the university will cease burning coal entirely within five years and will invest $113 million in renewable energy sources and projects. 
 
Several renewable energy projects have been installed on campus:
  • A 50kW solar panel system donated by GE on the roof of Stinson-Remick Hall, providing an estimated 55,000 kwh annually
  • A 10kW flexible thin-film solar array donated by Inovateus Solar on the roof of Fitzpatrick Hall
  • A 4kW vertical wind turbine on the roof of the power plant. 

Planned renewable initiatives include:

  • Gas turbine technology — The University will install combined cycle combustion gas turbines to produce both electricity and steam. These units will displace older power plant boilers with newer, higher efficiency and lower emissions sources of energy.
  • Geothermal applications — Numerous sites have been installed across campus to support both new and existing campus buildings.  These geothermal energy systems are located in the East Quad, quad area south of McCourtney Hall and east of Hesburgh library, parking lots south of Notre Dame Stadium, and the Ricci Athletic Fields.
  • Solar energy — Installation is currently underway for the new ground mount PV solar array system, located at the University Storage Facility on 1880 N. Kenmore Street.
  • Hydro power — The University is currently working with the city of South Bend and state and federal agencies to permit and construct a hydroelectric facility on the St. Joseph River dam in downtown South Bend. The hope is to begin the project in 2016. It is expected to produce 7 percent of current campus electrical needs.
  • Heat recovery — Numerous projects are both underway and in the planning phases to recover and regenerate energy from existing energy sources, such as the power plant’s condenser water.