Energy is a major part of our greenhouse gas inventory. The University has for many years incorporated energy conservation principles and upgrades to major systems that have drastically reduced our energy consumption. On campus, thermal and purchased electricity were 61.6 percent of our annual greenhouse gas emissions in fiscal year 2007. This is an area where improvement is necessary. As a state, Nevada has one of the most aggressive renewable energy standards in the country. Currently about 15 percent of the energy sold in Nevada comes from renewable sources and a legislative mandate calls for this to increase to 25 percent by 2025. As a result, the University's greenhouse gas emission from its electrical energy use will continue to decline as a result of this mandate even if energy use remains constant.

Our primary focus will be to reduce our energy consumption and then to look at alternative energy sources. The University has already made improvements in lighting efficiency, thermal systems efficiency and equipment efficiency. These efforts have saved approximately 25,000 MWh and over 665,000 therms per year, enough to power 2000 homes for a year.

Goal: Energy Conservation

  • Publish daily, monthly and annual building-by-building energy consumption reports. Set incentives for each building to reduce energy costs.
  • Investigate third party financing for energy related upgrades.
  • Reduce heat islands on campus to reduce summer cooling loads through the use of coatings that lower absorption of heat (e.g., high albedo coatings).
  • Minimize the number of buildings used during the evening to achieve greater energy reductions.
  • Maximize building utilization.

Reducing Energy Consumption


  • Set goals for minimum boiler efficiencies.
  • Monitor campus heating BTU per square foot and set goals for each class of building.
  • Install direct digital control systems.
  • Set thermostats to 68 degrees F.
  • Improve the "thermal envelopes" of buildings during renovations to improve insulation and reduce heat loss.
  • Lower the hot water system temperature to its lowest operating setting.
  • Evaluate the installation of solar hot water heating systems as a way to reduce hot water heating costs.


  • Evaluate the efficiency of all building chillers and cooling equipment. Set minimum efficiency levels. Replace equipment that does not meet these minimum levels.
  • Set summer space temperatures to 78 degrees F.
  • Utilize variable refrigerant flow systems to improve efficiency wherever possible.


  • Replace older energy-intensive lighting on campus.
  • Eliminate the use of incandescent lighting and use fluorescent lighting wherever possible.
  • Upgrade to LED lighting where feasible.
  • Install lighting occupancy sensors and smart lighting controls on all interior lighting where feasible.
  • Encourage the use of task lighting and natural light over other lighting sources.


  • Set minimum Energy Star rating for all computing equipment on campus.
  • Implement mandatory shutdown of monitors and personal computers when not in use.
  • Install occupancy sensors for all vending equipment to set machines in low power mode when buildings are unoccupied.

New building design: LEED and energy targets

  • Commit to achieving LEED 2.2 Silver standards or better in all new construction.
  • Strive to achieve a 30 percent reduction from the model energy code known as ASHRAE Standard 90.1 in all new buildings.

Exterior Lighting

  • Upgrade all parking garage lighting to high efficiency lighting and install day/night sensors where practical and security allows.
  • Minimize athletic field lighting when fields are not in use by providing equipment to control lighting.

Expand and Upgrade Central Heat Plant

  • Explore the construction of an on-campus heating and power facility that would be more efficient than the current high-temperature water heating plant or stand-alone boilers. Explore an agreement with a private energy firm to construct and operate a facility on University property that would sell hot water and electrical power to the University.
  • Build a central chilled water plant to provide cooling to its buildings and include thermal storage using chilled water instead of relying on less efficient individual building chillers.

Solar Panels at UNR

  • Valley Road Greenhouse Complex Photovoltaic
    This 30 kW solar array was switched on for the first time September 1, 2010 and this building was also designed with such an array in mind, which made final installation much easier. This system is the latest example of UNR's efforts to move toward a more sustainable future.
  • Greenhouse Solar System Fact Sheet
  • Press Release, October 2010

Solar Panels at UNR - Informational Flier

Installation of Solar Panels at the Joe Crowley Student Union

Video shot during the installation of the Solar Array on the Joe Crowley Student Union at the University of Nevada, Reno. Installation by Black Rock Solar. (Note: video only - no audio)

Learn More
Read more about the University’s Green Building Efforts
Download the full Campus Sustainability Report [PDF]