Baylor Energy Awareness Program: Engaging the Campus Community

Submitted on July 2, 2012 - 2:09pm


Baylor University


Clare Paul, Marketing Manager, Facilities & Energy, Baylor Facility Services, Baylor University

Project Overview

Baylor Facility Services, along with ARAMARK Higher Education and Baylor University, has embarked on a ground-breaking energy engagement program for the campus, leading Baylor's staff, students and community in a learning and awareness program to ensure that the Baylor campus supports a more responsible environmental life-style. The program focuses on energy consumption reduction strategies involving the entire campus community. Not only does the program help the university measure and reduce energy consumption, but it represents opportunities for students, employees and the greater Baylor community to learn more about energy conservation and sustainability economics.


Baylor University in Waco, Texas, is a private university, and a nationally ranked liberal arts institution. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas, Baylor is the oldest, continually operating university in the state. ARAMARK's facility services partnership with Baylor University began more than 10 years ago and includes plant operation and maintenance, grounds, energy management, building commissioning, and small construction projects.
Ten years ago Baylor University embarked on a strategic plan for the future called Baylor 2012. Building upon its strong Christian foundation and with continuous guidance from that legacy and tradition, Baylor sought through this vision to achieve higher levels of expectations and excellence in all phases and aspects of the University. The framework of Baylor 2012 has been firmly grounded in core convictions and imperatives that describe the inspiration behind the University’s bold vision to enter the upper echelon in all areas of higher learning.
Building on the core convictions and imperatives of Baylor 2012, the foundation for the Baylor Energy Awareness Program has been laid over the course of the past few years. In 2004, a substation was built that saves in electricity costs and improves reliability. This substation coupled with a wholesale energy contract saves the university $2,600,000 annually. Facility Services has also integrated energy management with the operations program in order to diagnose and correct system interrelationship issues to improve energy efficiency. This new management system includes a preventative maintenance program along with upgraded lighting and HVAC systems.
After implementing these initiatives, the next logical step was to engage faculty, staff and students in an educational effort to reduce energy consumption. In 2010, Baylor University began to develop and implement an energy engagement program for the campus.
The development and broad adoption of the Baylor Energy Awareness Program was led by Baylor Facility Services, with help of ARAMARK and Noveda. However, given the complementary interests of many other campus groups, Baylor recognized an opportunity for broader participation and advocacy. Outreach, awareness, training initiatives and faculty, staff and student involvement are critical to the success of the program. The included matrix describes the relationships the program has with various campus departments and groups.

Project Goals

The overarching goal of the Baylor Energy Awareness Program is to reduce energy consumption on campus through improved operational efficiencies, while engaging the campus population in responsible choices. In order to achieve this goal, the program must do the following:
• Encourage the Baylor Campus Community to be an integral part of energy conservation.
• Educate students, faculty, and staff about ways to reduce energy during their day to day activities on campus.
• Identify the environmental impact when energy-saving measures are implemented.
• Develop a cultural change throughout the campus that we are all stewards of the environment.
• Take the scheduling process to the next level by performing more detailed occupancy assessments to fine turn HVAC equipment operation.

Project Implementation

The Baylor Energy Awareness Program has an unparalleled opportunity to become an integral part of Baylor University. Through highly innovative, interactive and successful communications programs, the program is poised to provide the Baylor community broad understanding and create behavioral change relative to energy and water consumption. This program is innovative for the following reasons.
• Process – broad campus participation encompassing all facets of university life
• Education – techniques leveraging game-based learning, social media, technology and other communication vehicles
• Internship program – recent college graduate creating the link between Facility Services and the student body
Broad Department Participation
As the matrix included suggests, the program has worked with all aspects of campus life from the administration to students to housekeeping. No section of campus has remained unconnected, but the most interactive department has been Campus Living and Learning (CL&L). Working hand-in-hand with CL&L to launch the Baylor Energy Madness Residence Hall Competition, Facility Services was able to develop a deeper relationship with this area of campus that will allow greater access to the students living in residence halls. The synergy created here has allowed the Energy Awareness Program the opportunity to be able to post tips about energy and water savings around the residence halls. Stickers and flyers were also developed in conjunction with the University Sustainability Council to post in residence hall laundry rooms with tips about saving water and energy while doing laundry.
Baylor Energy Madness Residence Hall Competition
One of the most influential education techniques developed was the Baylor Energy Madness Residence Hall Competition. In spring and fall 2011, the program successfully completed the first two competitions. Baylor Energy Madness educates students about energy use and reduction and is designed to provide fun activities and events that excite and encourage residents to take responsibility in saving energy and water. It also acts as a forum to educate students in a quantifiable way how their actions can impact electrical and water consumption.

The competition is not only aimed at encouraging students to conserve electricity and water, but it is also designed to provide feedback to Facility Services about more efficient ways to save energy and water on campus. The results of the competition were tracked through EnergyZone, a web-based community competition platform that allows the participants on all levels to visualize and their consumption of energy.
During the competition, students competed as residence hall teams and earned points for energy reduction in their residence hall as well as earned bonus points by participating in other energy-related activities over the course of the games. One of the bonus point activities included the Dark Hall competition, where students in each residence hall turned off lights and unplugged items to see how large of an energy reduction they could achieve. Additional bonus activities included Energy Jeopardy and Energy Trivia games, where students answered questions related to energy and water conservation, film screenings, surveys and break pledges where students sign pledges agreeing to turn off and/or unplug everything possible before leaving on break.
Social Media
The program developed the EnergyZone website mentioned above and integrated the program with print and social media to spread the word around campus about the program and to give tips on how to save and energy and water.
o Website:
o Facebook:
o Twitter: baylorenergy
o YouTube: BaylorEnergyMadness
o Print: The Baylor Lariat
Mobile Residence Hall Room
To demonstrate to students the amount of kilowatts that common items in their residence hall room use, a mobile residence hall room was created containing items that students might have in their rooms including a clock radio, cell phone, coffee pot, an iron, and various light bulbs. Students are able to press buttons that turn these items on and see how many kilowatts each items uses. If they turn on too many items, they will over load the circuit and a loud buzzer goes off.
Baylor Energy Awareness Team (BEAT)
In order to involve more students on campus, the program began organizing a small group of students to help with various activities. This group helped conduct night walk-through classroom/lab energy audits and helped identify energy wasting items such as blinds, curtains, and doors being left open.
• Energy awareness meetings – Hosted regularly scheduled energy awareness meetings that included members of the faculty, staff, administration, University Sustainability Council and students in order to communicate temperature guidelines as wells to relay updates about the program and gain feedback about other things that might be coordinated on campus in order raise awareness.
• Displays and Booths - Had an on-going presence on campus with displays in the Bill Daniel Student Center, posters/flyers, sidewalk chalking, and an informational booth at campus events like freshman and transfer student orientations, Late Night, Baylor in Focus (Parent’s Weekend), OsoSafe, Diadeloso, Dr Pepper Hour, Creation (Earth) Week activities and others.
• Education materials - Created various types of communication materials such as posters, decals, stickers, and newsletters to inform and educate across campus.
The EnergyZone website is the prime interface used by students to monitor energy usage in their residence hall. The website shows energy use and rankings of competing teams during Baylor Energy Madness competitions. In addition, it engages students through links to social media sites including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, and provides energy tips they can use at school and at home. The site promotes sustainability by encouraging saving, recycling and green living practices.
Some of the key features of the EnergyZone website are:
• Photos to recognize previous competition winners
• Frequent updates communicating news and competition information to students
• A clickable 3-D map that can be viewed to choose buildings for more information
• Tips on how to win the competition
• Contact information for communicating with Baylor Energy Awareness staff
• A competition screen showing cumulative team points, current competitions in progress and up to the minute energy use for each building
• Energy usage for each building by hour for the last 24 hours, week, or year.
• Comparison of building energy usage to typical usage for each building
• Current weather data
Energy Flow
The Energy Flow Monitor tracks electrical usage in real time for all residence halls at Baylor University. This web-based monitor provides a history of energy use and enables users to run reports and analyze energy use at a very granular level for each building.
Some of the key features of Energy Flow are:
• Real-time monitoring of energy use
• Web-based data access
• Display current, daily, monthly, and 365 day usage data, peak and average demand
• View real-time data against user defined benchmarks such as budget, baseline, and Energy Star
• Displays a facility’s carbon and energy footprint
• In-depth data analytics with export capability
• Web based data storage at 1 minute intervals showing historical consumption and demand
• Customizable performance alerts, including notifications of peak demand periods
• Compatible with Baylor’s Siemens Building Automation System
ARAMARK Environmental Internship Program
ARAMARK partnered with the Student Conservation Association to bring an intern to Baylor Facility Services to work with the Baylor Energy Awareness Program. This recent college graduate helped the program launch the pilot residence hall competition held in the spring of 2011. His experience with sustainability and LEED gave him the expertise needed to offer valuable advice about energy and water saving tips as well as ideas about how to better engage the students. He led the effort to launch the Baylor Energy Awareness Team (peer-to-peer student group), helped manage the social media outlets and found local businesses to donate items to use as prizes for the different bonus point activities and events. Instrumental in relating to the students, he helped host the program booth and display at various campus events.
Building Scheduling
An aggressive aspect of the energy program was to implement optimum operational efficiency. The University's electricity and fossil fuel consumption were reduced by over 5% as a result of the implementation of a focused scheduling program aimed at better matching the individual energy needs of the campus community with the operation of the building systems.


The Baylor Energy Awareness Program officially started in September 2010 and does not have and end date. The program is committed to energy and water conservation and developing a campus environment that understands and is committed to the effort while creating a cultural and behavioral change across campus. In order to ensure ultimate long-term success, an energy and sustainability management program will be ongoing and include outreach, awareness, training initiatives and faculty, staff and student involvement.


The Baylor Energy Awareness Program is funded through Baylor Facility Services, a part of ARAMARK Higher Education, and Baylor University.
The ongoing costs per year for the education and outreach side of the Energy Awareness Program include:
Printing: $1500
T-shirts: $500
Booth materials (candy, pens, other giveaways): $800
Prizes for activities during residence hall competition: $250 (most prizes are donated by local businesses)
Thank-you gifts for residence hall team managers, including pizza party for them: $600
Pizza Party for residence hall competition winner: $500 (this will vary depending on how many students live in the hall)

Website design and set-up for EnergyZone and Energy Flow: $50,000
Website maintenance (yearly fee): $3000

Project Results

The Baylor Energy Awareness Program has increased customer satisfaction and heightened the level of awareness for energy and water initiatives among the faculty, students and staff of Baylor University. The programs initiated have extended the life of physical assets and buildings because they operate as intended and reduced deferred maintenance as well as saved the university money. Through the end of the first year of the Baylor Energy Awareness Program, $435,000 in savings has been achieved.
• Baylor Energy Madness participation - Over the course of the two competitions, nearly 1000 students from the competing residence halls signed up and participated in the various bonus point activities and events with about 40% participating in more than one event.
• Events engaging students – Over 40 activities and events were scheduled that engaged students from all different parts of campus from student leaders, to new students, to environmentally conscience students to those who had never thought about how to save energy or that they should save energy.
• Facebook – By the end of the second Baylor Energy Madness Competition, the program’s Facebook page had over 200 “likes.”
• Energy Reduction – Each Baylor Energy Madness competition resulted in savings.
o Spring 2011 –5.1% savings
o Fall 2011 – 6.06% savings
• Students now email ideas about how to save energy in different campus locations as well as ones that are wasting energy. (I.e. One student wondered that because there are so many windows in the lobby of Moody Library, if the overhead lights could be turned off during the day and natural light used.)
• Faculty and staff – Good Stewardship Committee is working to implement program ideas within the Staff Council in order to share with the entire staff.
• Scheduling and curtailment - The University’s electricity and fossil fuel consumption were reduced by 5% as a result of the implementation of a focused scheduling program aimed at better matching the individual energy needs of the campus community with the operation of the building systems.
Overall, the campus community is very receptive to the concept of the Baylor Energy Awareness Program. Most departments are very willing to work with Facility Services to implement energy and water saving suggestions. Outreach efforts have helped faculty and staff accept and adhere to campus temperature guidelines. These conversations have also strengthened the relationship of the faculty and staff with Baylor Facility Services. Now, faculty and staff feel they are getting a more personal level of service.
Another program success is the inclusion of program materials in new employee, new student and prospective student packets. Baylor can now use the program to highlight how it is becoming more sustainable and a better steward of the environment which ties back to Vision 2012 and the advancement of encouraging the understanding and care of the natural world as a matter of Christian stewardship while involving the entire Baylor family.
As the results show, the Baylor Energy Awareness Program has laid the foundation of behavioral change which is evident campus-wide. Students make sure lights are turned off as they leave a room. Faculty and staff hold meetings using only the natural light coming in through the windows. Because the program is able to communicate with and has the commitment of the entire campus community, faculty, staff and students have a greater understanding of how they can be better stewards of their natural world (especially energy and water) in their daily lives.

Lessons Learned

Over the course of the last year-and-a-half, many different types of lessons have been learned. Some examples include:
• Students can be difficult to keep engaged. A 7-week residence hall energy competition is just too long for this campus. The competition needs to be shorter (4 weeks) and end before Homecoming.
• An energy-related film screening is not well attended when screened on a campus-wide level. It works much better to screen films in smaller groups in the residence hall common rooms. Be sure to provide the popcorn.
• Most faculty and staff have their own idea about what temperature offices should be, whether it is in the temperature range or not. Working with each faculty/staff member and taking it on a case-by-case basis makes the process go more smoothly.
• Students like to open their residence hall windows no matter what the reason is for keeping them closed. Working harder to help educate students about why it is best to keep windows closed.
• A few students are absolutely and adamantly against any type of energy or water conservation – to the point of the situation turning ugly. They believe that it is their right to do what they want to and no one is going to tell them any differently. If that is the case, just walk away. (This is the exception, and not the norm.)
• Most students are receptive to tips and ideas about saving energy and water. They like the thought that these are habits they can learn now and take with them after college.
Energy and water conservation is not a new concept to college campuses. However, bringing about cultural and behavioral change toward energy and water conservation reaching all areas of campus life using awareness and outreach brings the concept to a new level. Elements of Baylor’s Energy Awareness Program can be tailored to fit any institution. Some of those elements include:
• Competitions – Develop competitions not only among residence halls, but among different buildings or even departments. For example, the business school could take on the sciences to see which group could save the most energy. Add recycling to the mix and even more fun could be had.
• Social Media – Provide ways for students, faculty and staff to all stay connected to the program. Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are all great ways to provide this type of connectivity.
• Energy Website – Create a website that reports building performance, gives tips on how to save energy and/or water, provides educational materials that can be downloaded, and has links to your social media sites.
• Student Teams – Students love to talk to other students, and in many cases, students are the best way to get the message out about the program. Using students to share the message about your program, helps build credibility with the student population. A student team will also give the program volunteers to help with events, booths and displays.
• Education Materials – Program communication materials can be used as hand-outs at events, teaching tools at meetings, and downloads on your website. They also should be easily revisable as needed.
• Campus Visibility – Participate in as many campus-wide events as possible. Hosting a booth at orientation, Parent’s Weekend, Homecoming, Earth Day/Week and any other event will help raise awareness among, students, faculty, staff, parents and alumni.

Supplemental Materials

Keyword(s): Co-Curricular Education and Student Organizing, Coordination and Planning, Energy, Public Engagement, Water

Admin Dept(s): Business and Financial Management, Conference and Events Administration, Energy Management, Environmental Health & Safety, Facilities Management, Residence Life, Student Affairs, Student Government, Sustainability Office, Other

Discipline(s): Engineering, Environmental Studies and Sciences

For more information on this project, click here.