Energy Conservation, Efficiency, and Management

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University Policy Number 1142


Responsible Office:

Policy Procedure:

  • George Mason University Master Plan
  • George Mason University Utility Master Plan
  • George Mason University Design Manual
  • George Mason University Utility Energy Plan

Related Law & Policy:

I. Scope

This policy applies to all University students, faculty, staff, affiliates, and visitors.

II. Policy Statement

In furtherance of George Mason University’s mission, goals, and values, wherever and whenever applicable and feasible, the university will adopt practices that make the most efficient and productive use of energy.  Mason will strive to continually reduce its energy consumption and utilize available technologies and methodologies to ensure that energy use is optimized and contributing to Mason’s goals.  Therefore, University faculty, staff, and students will make every effort to follow the standard operating procedures outlined below and proactively assist the University in its goals to lower energy consumption, reduce expenditures on energy, decrease greenhouse gas emissions, educate as well as engage the Mason community in the importance of energy management, and support Mason’s pledge to become climate neutral by 2050.

 III. Definitions

Energy: Purchased fuels and the energy and utilities derived from them.

Energy Efficiency: The use of equipment that requires less energy to operate.

Energy Conservation: Initiatives and efforts aimed at achieving a reduction in energy usage and waste.

Energy Management: Activities that foster energy conservation, energy efficiency, sustainability, and environmental stewardship.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Emissions which occur during the combustion of fossil fuels such as natural gas, fuel oil, diesel, gasoline, kerosene, propane, and coal.  These are typically calculated based on metric tons of equivalent carbon dioxide (MTeCO2).

Offsets: a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions made in order to compensate or mitigate for an emission made elsewhere.

Renewable Energy:  Energy generated from resources that are naturally replenished within a short, human time scale such as solar, wind, falling water, tidal, or biomass.

Sustainability:  Sustainability encompasses human and ecological health, social justice, secure livelihoods, and a better world for all generations. (Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, 2009)

IV. Compliance

The cleanest and cheapest energy is energy that is not consumed.  Therefore, George Mason University will pursue an energy savings hierarchy of promoting energy conservation and energy efficiency followed by renewable energy and offsets to save money, reduce its environmental impact and pollution, and achieve climate neutrality.  Mason will measure its total energy reduction progress as referenced in its Climate Action Plan.

The University will implement energy conservation measures to the extent that funds are available.  The Facilities department will identify potential conservation measures and recommend priorities based on expected payback, investment required, education value, and environmental impact.  Decisions on which energy conservation measures will be undertaken will be done on an annual basis.  The University will endeavor to implement all measures with a two year or less payback period.

Standard operating procedures:

  • Temperature Settings: Building occupants and on-campus residents will keep indoor temperatures in all spaces during occupied periods at 70°F during the winter and 76° during the summer.  Indoor temperature settings in all spaces during extended unoccupied periods will be 60° F during the winter and 80° F during the summer.  The Energy Management office will monitor and adjust the above set points, in consideration of outdoor environmental conditions and indoor humidity levels, for all buildings and spaces controlled centrally.  If temperatures are significantly different from those settings, supervisors are to contact Facilities Management Work Control or the Energy Management office to investigate.  Otherwise, please dress appropriately for the temperatures.
  • Occupancy Schedules: Mason will optimize each building’s heating and cooling systems to accommodate the schedules of the majority of the building occupants. If exceptions are needed for an individual or a subgroup, the supervisor must get approval from the Energy Management office.  Department and unit leaders are to coordinate with the Energy Management office to set occupancy schedules during extended unoccupied periods where buildings or spaces such as academic breaks, summer session, weekends, or end of the day.
  • Portable Heating and Cooling Highly Discouraged: Use of portable heating and cooling devices is highly discouraged due to safety issues, increased cost, and interference with the proper operations of the University’s heating and cooling system.  Exceptions must be approved by the supervisor and must comply with Mason’s Fire Safety Plan.  The Environmental, Health, and Safety office will regularly inspect buildings and document when devices are not in compliance. Individuals or departments may be responsible for compensating the University for the increased energy use and cost, if deemed appropriate.
  • Power Management: Mason Information Technologies will work with occupants to turn off or enable power management features for electronics and equipment when leaving the classroom or workspace for extended periods of unoccupied time such as weekends, academic breaks, and at the end of the day.
  • Lighting Controls: The Energy Management office will work with occupants to regulate lighting in their building and spaces to match approved lighting standards. These include the use of devices such as occupancy sensors, LED lights, daylighting, blinds, etc.  Occupants who intentionally dismantle and/or damage the lighting controls may be responsible for compensating the University.  If the occupant or office wants to modify or remove the lighting, supervisors please contact the Energy Management office to discuss.
  • Loss of Conditioned Air: Building occupants and on-campus residents will keep windows and doors in conditioned spaces closed when building conditioning systems are operating otherwise the energy used in heating or air conditioning will be lost and unfiltered.  If occupants are excessive in wasting energy, he or she may be responsible for costs associated with that waste.
  • Manage Water Use: Building occupants and on-campus residents will minimize the use of water, especially hot water, whenever possible and feasible for water conservation and to save energy due to heating the water.  If occupants are excessive in wasting water, he or she may be responsible for costs associated with that waste.
  • Purchase Energy Efficient Products: Purchasers will purchase or lease energy efficient products, such as EnergySTAR or EPEAT products, when purchasing or leasing new appliances, office equipment, or electronics.  These rated devices save up to 75% in energy costs compared to the average appliance, equipment, or electronic.

V. Forms


VI. Dates

 A. Effective Date:

This policy will become effective upon the date of approval by the Senior Vice President for Administration and Finance and the Provost and Executive Vice President.

B. Date of Most Recent Review:


 VII. Timetable for Review

This policy, and any related procedures, shall be reviewed every three years or more frequently as needed.

VIII. Signatures



Senior Vice President for Administration and Finance


Provost and Executive Vice President                  

Date Approved: 9/19/2016