December 2009
Golf carts take place of many JSU vehicles
DSU dumps buses, trims costs
Mississippi Valley energy plan saves money and facilities
UM tracks energy usage to spend less
Efficiency key in design of new UMMC lab space
Budget team finds savings at Alcorn State
USM 'hibernates' computers to pare down expenses
'Blubox' replacing dumpsters at MUW
MSU payroll goes paperless
Golf carts take place of many JSU vehicles
Jackson State University is expanding a program that replaces older campus vehicles with golf carts to cut transportation costs during an economic slowdown.

The three-year-old program has resulted in a total savings of about $200,000 so far, said Wayne Goodwin, JSU's assistant vice president for facilities and construction management.

Golf carts now represent 80 percent of the university's Department of Facilities & Construction Management maintenance fleet, rather than cars and trucks that have been used in years past.

"It's cut down on our fuel costs tremendously," Goodwin said.

JSU has 18 electrical golf carts and is ordering four additional ones. The carts are used mostly by electricians, plumbers, athletics, undergraduate recruitment personnel, and Food Services workers to travel around the 225-acre campus.

The golf cart program is connected to the university's other efforts to save money in a tight economy. Goodwin said that electricity costs incurred by charging the golf carts are offset by JSU's daily efforts to turn off lights when buildings and rooms are unoccupied.

"We've saved on fuel, and the golf carts' electricity consumption has been minimum," he said.

Like Mississippi's other public universities, JSU is looking for creative ways to trim expenses as declining revenues force budget cuts.

Besides the golf cart program, JSU is also reducing temperature settings of thermostats after classes and during weekends. That effort, combined with the campus' efforts to turn off lights in unoccupied areas, has reduced energy consumption between 17-20 percent a month, officials said.

JSU is also recycling paper and plastic and construction materials such as dirt, wood, concrete and brick. Additionally, the university is considering installing motion sensors and energy-efficient interior and exterior lighting and water faucets in various buildings.

"We continue to be committed to finding ways that Jackson State can streamline its operations in an efficient manner that affects the least amount of students, faculty and employees," said Anthony Dean, Director of University Communications.

DSU dumps buses, trims costs
Delta State University recently put the brakes on its pair of buses when the university determined it was more cost-effective to contract with a private company for transportation services.

DSU sold the two buses it owned and operated after undertaking the cost analysis and investigating how much it would cost to use a charter service instead.

"It turned out the per-mile cost of operating the buses was higher than the cost-per-mile quoted by the charter services," said Greg Redlin, DSU vice-president for Finance and Administration. "Over an entire year, the savings was calculated to be approximately $100,000."

DSU negotiated a contract with ACR Coaches in Starkville to provide its bus transportation services. The service will be used mainly for faculty and students to travel to academic functions, and for student-athletes and coaches to attend athletic events.

This is just one of the ways that DSU is trying to cut costs during tough financial times that are affecting revenues for all of Mississippi's public universities.

Budget cuts have been ordered at all of the Institutions, and more are expected in the coming months.

"Every dollar is difficult to find," Redlin said.

DSU is trying to find more ways to save money without affecting more students, faculty and employees. But like other universities, labor costs make up most of the school's budget.

"There aren't a lot of creative ways left, but we are determined to maintain the quality of our degree programs," Redlin said. "This requires putting the academic needs of our students first something that Delta State has always tried to do in good and bad economic times."

Mississippi Valley energy plan saves money and facilities
Turning off the lights at certain hours, adjusting thermostat settings and controlling water output are all new strategies Mississippi Valley State University employed this year.

MVSU's energy management plan, made up of small, day-to-day operational changes such as these, has made a big difference in annual bills, officials from the institution said.

Nineteen of MVSU's newest buildings have been incorporated into the plan, which allows our technicians to centrally and from disclosed locations from within the buildings manage the temperature settings.

"We are operating at a cost of a little less than $1 per square foot, but we want to bring that down even further," said Derrick Bell, MVSU director of facilities.

The university hopes to add another 20 older buildings to the plan, retrofitting them with updated piping systems and other equipment to make them more energy efficient.

Debbie Montgomery, MVSU's director of communications and marketing, said that ensuring older buildings have proper infrastructure can help the university see long-term savings.

"MVSU is interested in planning for the future and our energy management plan is an important part of that process," she said.

Bell agreed.

"By cutting down on destructive problems such as too much condensation, which often occurs with older piping systems, we extend the lives of our facilities and equipment," he said.

For more information about MVSU's campus and facilities, click here.

UM tracks energy usage to spend less
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Soon all the University of Mississippi's largest buildings will be equipped with meters that allow real-time monitoring, analyzing and reporting of energy usage.

The goal? Significantly lowering energy bills and reducing the campus's carbon footprint by using technology developed by SmartSynch Inc. The Jackson company's SmartMeters allow the university to transparently track energy output and limit unnecessary usage.

Ole Miss has already tagged 18 buildings with SmartMeters. Another 100 buildings will be equipped with the technology soon, said Jim Morrison, UM director of strategic planning and campus sustainability. Ole Miss is the first university in the country to install the meters.

"SmartSynch gives us the ability to find the problem areas and correct them immediately," Morrison said.

The university's monthly bill is based on peak usage. With this new technology, Ole Miss can control and set its peak at a lower level. Morrison estimates SmartMeters will save the institution between 10 percent and 15 percent on monthly energy bills.

"It's likely that we set our peak usage in the morning when everyone is turning on lights and computers at the same time," Morrison said. "Now we can manage that peak and save the university money."

The university is also utilizing social networking tools such as Facebook, Twitter and RSS to engage the broader campus and provide the general public with real-time energy usage information.

"The SmartMeters have brought transparency and accountability to a new level at Ole Miss," Morrison said. "We're proud to be on the forefront of developing new ways of becoming more efficient."

Efficiency key in design of new UMMC lab space
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The recent addition to the Arthur C. Guyton Research Center at the University of Mississippi Medical Center is beautiful, but its design also has a much more practical purpose efficiency.

In tight economic times, going green in the construction of new facilities at universities across the state is paying off by reducing energy usage and annual bills.

"We want to be good citizens of the environment but we also have to watch our bottom line," said Dr. David Dzielak, associate vice chancellor for strategic research alliances at UMMC. "The design of this building helps us achieve both of these things."

Named after legendary UMMC scientist Dr. Arthur Guyton, some of the 191,000-square foot, eight-story building's green features include:

  • Windows outfitted with tempered glass, sun shades on the east, south, and west exposure, an aluminum light shelf and fretted glass, all aimed at reducing the amount of infrared energy coming in with the sunlight;
  • A highly-efficient HVAC system that reduces energy used to heat and cool the building; and
  • Laboratory fume hood fans that adjust their speed, and even turn off completely if a person is not in the vicinity, using a movement sensor mechanism.

Local materials were used in construction, which also saved construction costs and contributed to the local economy, Dr. Dzielak said.

The building, opened in April 2009, currently houses the Department of Physiology and Biophysics, the Center of Excellence in Cardiovascular and Renal Research and researchers in several other fields including cancer, obesity and metabolic diseases. Memphis-based FlintCo. Constructive Solutions built the facility, which connects to the original 100,000-square foot Guyton research building.

Dr. Dzielak said that he expects the building to continue the "green" theme with future UMMC construction projects.

"Architects are really interested in green design and construction right now," he said. "It just so happens that we can also save money by building in a way that is less harmful to the environment."

Budget team finds savings at Alcorn State
Alcorn State University is taking a team approach when it comes to becoming more efficient on campus.

A Budget Advisory Committee made of up 20 people from across the university has been established to study expenses and recommend changes that can help the institution find savings.

"We're looking at all aspects of the budget, including revenue enhancement opportunities and cost-cutting measures," said Kevin Appleton, vice president for finance and administrative services at Alcorn State.

Established in Spring 2009, the committee has already released some recommendations the campus has acted on including the implementation of an energy management plan. The quality and productivity of degree programs offered has also been a focus for the committee, which meets twice a month, Appleton said.

The committee is made up of people from each campus constituency including senior administration, academic deans, faculty, staff and students. Appleton said this was a purposeful design meant to foster buy-in from the larger university community.

Several other public universities across the state have established similar committees to review expenditures and academic programs.

"We are in very difficult, unprecedented times," he said. "If Alcorn State is going to become more efficient, we have to make sure everyone understands the situation that we have been faced with and is doing their part to ensure we remain a viable institution."

USM 'hibernates' computers to pare down expenses
The University of Southern Mississippi is targeting computer costs in its ongoing efforts to save money in a tight economy.

Computers coming through the university are being pre-programmed to "hibernate" after a certain period of non-use. Larry Lee, USM Chief Sustainability Officer, said the change will reduce energy 80 percent more than using the "screensaver" mode.

Lee said the university spends about $2 million every year on energy to run technology, including computers. But energy reduction initiatives should help USM reduce energy by 40 percent within 10 years and save millions of dollars in the process, he added.

The "Juice Press" program installed by iTech allows computers in the Cook Library computer lab to go in standby mode automatically when there is a slow time among the equipment. The computers receive updates every Thursday evening, while every other night they are turned off completely.

Besides pre-programming computers, university officials are educating students, faculty and employees about various ways they can save energy and costs on computers and other equipment.

"Everybody has to be on the same team that says, 'Doing it matters,'" Lee said. "If we have an environment for that to be realized, it's now."

All of Mississippi's public universities are cutting back on expenses to overcome current and future budget deficits that have been prompted by a downturn in the economy.

The Southern Miss Green Initiative is encouraging students to "go green" by turning off computers and lights and unplugging equipment when feasible to save energy and money for the university. The university anticipates additional money saved during the holiday break when fewer computers are in use.

"It is the goal of iTech to stay current on ways to provide "green" savings in the field of technology at Southern Miss," said Homer Coffman, USM Chief Information Officer.

'Blubox' replacing dumpsters at MUW
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The robust recycling program at the Mississippi University for Women isn't just saving the environment. It is also saving the institution big bucks in a belt-tightening economy.

MUW currently recycles up to 2,000 pounds of material a week. The goal is to double that amount and save thousands on the institution's garbage removal bill.

"With a little more effort, we could probably eliminate about 50 percent of our commercial dumpster activity," said Sam Wise, director of facilities management at MUW. "That would cut our annual was pick-up costs in half."

Although BluBox the Columbus company that works with MUW does charge to pick up recyclables, the costs are lower than traditional garbage pick-up fees. MUW's annual waste removal bill is about $44,000, Wise said.

Recycling is often a cheaper option because transportation costs are lower, said Karen Stanley, director of sales and marketing at BluBox.

"Recyclable materials are clean, so they don't have to be picked up as often as traditional waste," Stanley said. "We can wait until the containers are full to pick up and that cuts down on costs considerably."

Wise said the program has been popular on campus because it is "single stream" meaning all materials can be put into the same container which makes it easier for students, staff and faculty to choose to recycle.

So far, the effort has been largely grassroots, he said, but next semester MUW plans to ramp up the campaign using the university communications team and student government association.

The effort has been exciting for Stanley, who graduated from MUW in 2001.

"As an alum, it is wonderful to see the campus going green," she said. "The program has been well received and I'm looking forward to seeing it expand in the future."

MSU payroll goes paperless
Taking the paper out of Mississippi State University's payroll is expected to save hundreds of thousands of dollars as the university continues budget-trimming efforts.

Beginning Jan. 31, MSU will transition to electronic payroll payments for its employees. The university anticipates saving $400,000 by going paperless.

This is the latest step MSU is taking to make operations more efficient in tough economic times. An economic downturn is hurting finances at all of Mississippi's public universities.

"By improving efficiencies, we will increase savings to the university at a time when resources are critical," said Michael McGrevey, MSU's vice president for finance and administration.

He said MSU is planning longer-term savings by moving to electronic payments for employee travel and vendor invoices.

"We anticipate having all of that in place by the end of 2010," McGrevey said. All of the electronic payments are expected to save a total of about $550,000 when they are implemented.

MSU employees will be able to have their paychecks directly deposited into accounts, or to a paycard, which is similar to a debit card.

Direct deposit, in use at MSU since the early 1990's, will continue without a paper deposit confirmation to eliminate more than 120,000 checks and pay stubs annually.

Employees using paycards will have funds transmitted directly to a bank through the national Automated Clearing House network. The paycards may be used at automated teller machines- ATMs- to withdraw cash or purchase goods and services at thousands of VISA merchants nationwide.

"We have used the paycard system with approximately 250 student workers in the last several months, and it's been very successful," said Wayne Bland, associate vice president for finance and administration at MSU.

As MSU continues looking for ways to cut costs, McGrevey said the university's goal "is to do everything possible to minimize the impact on people and positions."