Georgetown University Transforms Campus Energy Usage

While many higher education institutions are taking action to enhance their sustainability efforts, Georgetown University is embarking on bold projects that demonstrate how universities can further enhance their sustainability goals. Georgetown University pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions at least 50 percent by the year 2020. By FY14, the University had met this goal, achieving greenhouse gas reductions of over 71 percent from a 2006 baseline. The University’s rigorous sustainability targets include becoming carbon neutral and water positive by 2031, and achieving 100 percent renewable power by 2035.

The ongoing work to promote sustainability on campus is achieved by a long-term 50-year partnership between Georgetown University and ENGIE North America Inc., a leader in energy services for major universities, cities, and critical infrastructure entities around the world, operates and maintains campus utility systems as well as planning and investing in capital improvement projects. The partnership — the latest in a series of collaborations — responds to the University’s challenge to improve reliability, efficiency, and sustainability throughout the campus utility infrastructure.

Modernizing the University’s energy and water infrastructure contributes to more reliable, efficient, and sustainable operations. The ongoing improvement projects around Georgetown University campus include the following:

Smart-Metering Installation: March 2022-Summer 2023

The installation of real-time meters for. Energy and water consumption in campus building allows Georgetown to better analyze and assess its usage and reduction targets. The meters track the progress toward net zero status, and foster competition between residence halls and academic buildings to reduce their carbon footprint.

Healy Lawn Utility Enhancements: Summer 2022-Spring 2024

The steam pipes under Healy Lawn are being replaced with hot water piping. The upgrade will reduce both the University’s energy usage and its water footprint.

Lighting Upgrade: March 2022-Summer 2024

Almost every light on main campus is being upgraded to energy efficient light-emitting diodes (LEDs), which use half the energy of standard fluorescent lights and provide better lighting. This upgrade is estimated to reduce the University’s carbon footprint by over 1,700 tons of CO2 annually.

The partnership brings the University a number of benefits including:

  • Improved reliability of utility systems expected with additional resources and focus provided by the partnership
  • Efficiency upgrades across campus, expected to reduce energy use intensity (EUI) by 35 percent by 2031
  • Accelerated progress toward sustainability goals including addressing its carbon footprint through smarter use of energy
  • Academic collaboration with university community to provide new opportunities including internships, scholarships, and grants
  • Training and development opportunities for utilities staff as a part of a diverse network of campus partnerships   

ENGIE operates the campus utilities and works daily with Georgetown’s Engineering, Facilities, and Project & Design teams. “Universities are really good at educating students, but running behind-the-scenes utilities isn’t our core function. A company like ENGIE can manage our infrastructure better than we can. Energy services is their business; it’s what they do,” said Lisa Belokur, Associate Vice President of Facilities Operations at Georgetown University.

Georgetown University’s ambitious sustainability goals extend beyond campus, positively impacting students, faculty, and the community. The Georgetown University Energy Prize (GUEP) is a multi-year, multi-million dollar competition that challenges small- to medium-size towns, cities, and countries to achieve innovative, replicable, scalable, and continual reductions in the per account energy consumption of gas and electricity.

For more articles on sustainability in higher education, see: 

The University of Helsinki Set to Become Carbon-Neutral by 2030

Higher Education’s Contribution to Green Technologies

Higher Ed Makes Strides Toward Carbon Neutrality, Sustainability

7 Sustainable Practices Towards a Greener Campus

Key Elements of a Sustainable University