Zero Energy University Campuses: A 2018 Progress Update on Reaching Campus Energy Goals

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Many universities have aggressive energy-reduction and climate action plans. To reach these goals, leading universities have developed a suite of common energy-efficiency and renewable generation strategies. In this paper, we present a common set of approaches across the following areas: zero energy campus definitions and planning, best practices for including energy targets in new construction procurement contracts and design guidelines, implementing pilot new construction zero energy projects, aggressively implementing best-in-class laboratory energy-efficiency strategies, planning for and optimizing on-site and off-site renewable energy projects, and high-performance district energy systems. Best practices are compiled from various experiences, including programs funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy program. The summary of these best practices is to reduce campus energy use and then meet the remaining campus energy needs with renewable energy. The fivestep process to developing and implementing campus energy-reduction plans is described: 1) determine baseline energy consumption, 2) analyze technology options, 3) develop a plan and set priorities, 4) implement the plan, and 5) evaluate progress. The process follows a logical hierarchy of actions to evaluate options by energy sector and set specific targets. It encompasses all energy systems on campus, recognizing that campus-wide measures have increased potential for reducing energy use. Common strategies are explained along with examples and results.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages16
StatePublished - 2018
Event2018 ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings - Pacific Grove, California
Duration: 12 Aug 201817 Aug 2018


Conference2018 ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings
CityPacific Grove, California

Bibliographical note

Available from ACEEE: see; See NREL/CP-7A40-71822 for preprint

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CP-7A40-74168


  • buildings
  • campus
  • energy efficiency
  • universities


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