The primary use of energy at the University of Kentucky is to provide comfortable and effective environments for learning, research and health care. The energy used to power, heat and cool our campus comes from electricity we purchase from a private utility and on-campus combustion of natural gas and coal. Natural gas and coal are used for heating campus buildings, cooking and producing hot water. Electricity is used to produce chilled water and to provide ventilation, lighting and power. These functions are the University’s primary source of greenhouse gas emissions and a significant component of campus operational expenses. Efforts to reduce campus energy use must include a thorough understanding of how our academic and health care activities consume energy. This understanding will help determine the best tactics for reducing energy consumption.


Energy FAQs

The energy needed to heat and power the campus is a significant line item on our annual budget and is produced primarily by burning fossil fuels which leads to more than 80% of campus greenhouse gas emissions. Thus, energy use and energy management are critically important to the overall sustainability goals of the University of Kentucky. Working on solutions to the challenges posed by our energy consumption requires an understanding of our current situation. We have compiled this list of frequently asked questions to communicate the details of our current energy consumption:UK Energy FAQs. Conservation and efficiency are the primary strategies in place to reduce the negative environmental and economic impacts of campus energy use. 

Conservation and Efficiency Efforts

The cleanest, cheapest kilowatts are the ones we don't use. Conservation and efficiency have been priorities for Facilities Management for many years. Our past efforts are highlighted by the centralized energy management strategies carried out by the Delta Room. Utlizing a variety of strategies including intense scheduling and off-peak setbacks we save $3-5 million in energy expenses annually resulting in significant conservation of natural resources and annual greenhouse gas emissions reductions of more than 50,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (mtCO2e). 

The University, in partnership with Cenergistic, launched a new energy conservation effort to reduce energy costs and conserve natural resources in the summer of 2016, The program does not require the university to increase its utility budget, purchase new energy equipment or upgrade existing equipment. Instead, Cenergistic engineers will work on-site with Facilities Management employees to monitor energy usage in campus facilities, find conservation opportunities and implement energy savings strategies. Through this partnership, the University has established energy guidelines for students and employees. 

In 2010 the University worked with the energy services company Ameresco to implement 19 energy conservation measures in 61 general funded campus buildings. The estimated annual impact of these efforts is more than $2 million in utility savings and greenhouse gas emissions reductions of 15,000 mtCO2e.

For more information about our conservation and efficiency efforts, please contact Britney Ragland, Campus Energy Engineer. 

Renewable Energy on Campus

There are several small-scale renewable energy projects on campus. These include solar photovoltaic systems on the Davis Marksbury and Ralph G. Anderson Buildings; a solar thermal system at the Poundstone Regulatory Service Building; and a ground source geothermal system providing heating and cooling for Donovan and Johnson Halls. SKY Blue, the UK Solar House project, and the College of Engineering's Solar Car team are also exciting initiatives that have integrated renewable energy into the curriculum and research of the university. 

Center for Applied Energy Research

The University of Kentucky Center for Applied Energy (CAER) investigates energy technologies to improve the environment. Researchers contribute to technically-sound policies related to fossil and renewable energy. CAER is one of UK's multidisciplinary research centers.

In 2015, UK received a sliver rating from the AASHE STARS system. Below are the credits and our scores on energy use. 


OP-8: Building Energy Consumption 2.08/6.00

OP-9: Clean and Renewable Energy 0.00/4.00