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GW saves millions of dollars thanks to the DCSEU



George Washington University


GW saves millions of dollars thanks to the DCSEU

As students we can help reduce GW's collective energy consumption

Shanni Alon


The average 50,000 square foot building on a U.S. college campus uses more than $100,000 worth of energy per year. District House has 40,000 square feet of student space in just the lower two levels of the building. When you put that into perspective you see just how much energy we use and how expensive it is.

Despite many recent federal environmental protection rollbacks, cities around the country have remained committed to energy efficiency. The federal decisions do not necessarily need to dictate what states and cities do individually and most states have some level of energy efficiency measures that are locally funded.

The District of Columbia Sustainable Energy Utility

In Washington, D.C., The District of Columbia Sustainable Energy Utility (DCSEU) works to help residents and businesses save on their energy bills and train people in the energy industry, which creates 88 new energy jobs yearly. It is led by the Sustainable Energy Partnership and under contract to the Department of Energy & Environment (DOEE).

The DCSEU works with D.C. residents and companies to lower their energy emissions by offsetting the price of energy efficient products incentivizing consumers to purchase energy efficient products. They work with manufacturers and retailers to lower the consumer cost to make them more attractive and to compete with the cheaper product. Currently, the DCSEU is completing the transition of multiple federal buildings to solar energy and has provided technical assistance for energy-efficiency in the White House during the Obama Administration.

The DCSEU has helped The George Washington University, “achieve $10 million in lifetime energy savings in natural gas and electricity” by making simple changes such as improving insulation, upgrading heating equipment and changing light bulbs, according to Ted Trabue, managing director of DSEU.

“The George Washington University is one of the largest energy consumers in D.C.”

GW has worked with the DCSEU for over four years to reduce their energy consumption. Universities and hospitals operate all day every day, which consumes a lot of energy. In fact, “The George Washington University is one of the largest energy consumers in D.C.” said Trabue.

How can we save energy?

We, as students and as D.C. residents, can also take our part to reduce our energy consumption and our footprint on the world. Not only will small changes benefit our city and ultimately the world, but high energy efficiency products are also fiscally more responsible. A cheap lightbulb will maybe last us a year, however spending a few extra cents for a high energy efficient product will last us two decades.

The infographic below depicts what you can do in your dorm to save energy:
Graphic courtesy of Reed Westcott

Going Forward

Many of the programs promoted by the DCSEU are currently optional, but Trabue predicts that in about three years many of these suggestions will become mandatory as regulations and building codes change.

Energy efficiency is a collective effort. We can each individually take small measures that have a large impact for the world as a whole.