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An energy-saving campaign at the University of Otago has seen it save $350,000 (excluding GST) on forecast energy spending last year.
Energy co-ordinator Mark Mason said the "energy challenge", which started in June last year, had resulted in "a pleasing shift" and included a saving of 2600MWh.
The campaign was started in the wake of increasing energy prices and before its launch it was estimated in another five years the university could expect its energy bill to almost double. Energy consumption had also been increasing at a rate of 3%-6% for as long as records showed, Mr Mason said.
The energy campaign aimed to stem this increase, so more money could be spent elsewhere.
"The less money that the university needs to spend on energy, the more it can direct towards teaching and research."
It was also in line with the university's commitment to sustainability principles. The ways the campaign reduced energy consumption included prompting people to adopt a "switch-it-off" approach and improving the energy performance of buildings by looking into lighting, heating and room-booking systems.
Overall, the energy challenge set achievable savings targets for individual buildings at the university.
"These targets are based on how much staff can realistically reduce energy waste and also what building improvements property services can pursue to help staff reach savings targets."
The best-performing buildings were the ones with staff acting as key contacts for the savings campaign. These included the Owheo Building, executive residence, Smithell's Gym, commerce building, zoology buildings, property services and the Gregory Building, which all reduced energy use by 4% to 12%.
Mr Mason said there was potential for further savings in 2012, which could be achieved in part through staff continuing to get into the habit of using energy wisely.