UK has saved nearly 14 million kilowatt hours of electricity and 38 million gallons of water since undertaking the project.

University of Kentucky officials say a $25 million energy-savings project has cut costs by $2.4 million a year and reduced the university’s carbon dioxide output by 23,291 tons a year—the equivalent of taking 45,755 cars off the road.

In UK’s aging Chemistry/Physics building, the changes include new energy-efficient lighting and ventilation systems.

“The improvement in the light level was just shocking,” said Mark Meier, chairman of the chemistry department. “This is what people notice.”

In lab spaces, vents that sucked out air constantly—even when there were no experiments creating vapors and fumes—have been replaced with more efficient models that work only when needed.

“These days, you can’t afford to throw away that much heated or cooled air,” Meier said. “This is the gold standard.”

The upgrades were part of a project approved in 2009 to help UK save money. Under a deal with Ameresco, a national energy savings company, UK issued $25 million in bonds to pay for the work.

UK is now saving about $2.4 million a year; $2.2 million is used to pay off the bonds, and the rest is banked for future energy savings.

The changes have been big: $16.2 million on mechanical systems upgrades, such as better heating and cooling; $6.8 million on lighting; and $1.9 million on water conservation, including low-flush toilets across campus.

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