Energy and Buildings FAQ

Mason spends about $9 to $10 million in energy costs every year for buildings at all campuses. In general, academic buildings account for about 40% of this energy usage, while auxiliary buildings (student centers, athletics, parking) accounts for about 40%, and housing about 20%.  The Fairfax campus consumes 78% of Mason’s energy, the Science and Technology campus consumes 21%, while Arlington campus consumes about one percent of Mason’s energy.

For fiscal year 2017 (July 2016 through June 2017), Mason energy-use cost $9.7 million for 805,684 MMBTU. For even more specific information, please email facilq@gmu.edu and provide at least 2 weeks for us to collect detailed data.

Mason spends over $1 million a year on water and sewer.  For fiscal year 2017 (July 2016 through June 2017), Mason spent $1.5 million on water and sewer and used over 179 million gallons of water.

Dominion Virginia Power provides power to the Fairfax, Arlington, and Potomac Science Center Campuses. Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative (NOVEC) provides power to the Science and Technology Campus.

Mason has researched multiple opportunities to install large-scale renewable energy projects, including solar and geothermal energy. However, given the current markets, Mason has not had the opportunity to implement such projects on a large scale. Mason does have some small solar installations on campus.

In accordance with Mason’s 2010 Climate Action Plan, Mason purchased renewable energy credits/certificates (RECs) from 2010 to 2015 to offset its carbon footprint. Mason purchased 5% of its electricity consumption in RECs for 2011; 10% for 2012 and 2013; and 15% for 2014. Cumulatively, Mason has purchased over 53,000 megawatts to offset its carbon footprint.

In 2016, Mason outlined in its energy policy (University Policy Number 1142) that it will pursue an energy hierarchy of energy conservation, energy efficiency, renewable energy, and then offsets. RECs are still purchased for new capital building/construction projects, if appropriate.

Mason’s Facilities department has implemented 43 energy savings projects that have save the university $2.5 million annually over the last decade. Mason has invested in two energy savings performance contracts that included projects such as exterior LED lighting and equipment upgrades. Please go to Mason Facilities Energy Management website for more information about the performance contracts, past projects, current energy fees, and more. For even more specific information, please email facilq@gmu.edu and provide at least 2 weeks for us to collect detailed data.

You can take steps to conserve energy, on and off campus! These include:

  • Setting your thermostat settings to 70°F in the winter and 76°F in the summertime. Heating and cooling needs are a building’s largest energy use. Dress appropriately to stay comfortable and ease thermostat use.
  • Shortening your shower time to reduce the amount of energy necessary to heat up water – or better yet, take a cold shower!
  • Washing full loads of laundry with cold water.
  • Purchasing LED light bulbs for task lighting, as LEDs are longer-lasting and use less energy than traditional incandescent and CFL lightbulbs.
  • Switching off and unplugging all electronics and electrical appliances not in use, as opposed to using standby power.

Mason’s goal is to become climate neutral by 2050. If Mason reduces the greenhouse gas emissions from its building energy use as well as its transportation area, that covers up to 80% of Mason’s emissions. Mason reports its greenhouse gas emissions inventory on a regular basis.  In FY16, Mason emitted approximately 102,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCDE). For more details on Mason’s greenhouse gas emissions, please visit Mason’s 2017 STARS report on AASHE’s website.

Mason has eleven (11) buildings designed to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified standard or above, and two buildings Virginia Energy Conservation and Environmental Standards (VEES) certified. Mason has many more buildings designed or renovated with sustainability in mind, including lighting and water fixture upgrades. For more information, please visit the buildings section of Mason’s Office of Sustainability website.

The central heating and cooling plant provides chilled water and high temperature hot water for the university’s cooling and heating needs. To schedule a tour of the plant, please email facilq@gmu.edu at least four weeks in advance with the best times and dates for you.

Mason’s building energy management system centrally manages common areas, but does not control temperature settings in individual rooms so that residents can adjust the temperatures based on their comfort level. If you believe the temperature is out of range in the common area, please call Facilities customer service at 703.993.2525.

Most of Mason buildings are open from 8am to 10pm. Building lights are kept on for emergency egress as well as for safety reasons. However, if you believe they are unintentionally left on, please note specifics of the occurrence such as date, time, building, room number (if possible), part of the building, and floor number. You can report this information to Facilities customer service at 703.993.2525 or csc@gmu.edu 24/7.

Thank you for your interest! Please send your idea along with any available details such as a professional engineering design, funding in place, timeline, and/or maintenance plan to facilq@gmu.edu.