Northern Arizona University is set to begin a campus-wide project that will improve energy efficiency, reduce utility costs and make significant strides toward its carbon neutrality goals.

Energy services company NORESCO recently performed an energy audit of the 3.7 million square feet of space on NAU’s Flagstaff campus. The audit identified several ways to reduce energy usage that will lead to an $18 million investment in energy conservation projects, equipment and technological improvements to be implemented over the next two years.

Once complete, the energy upgrades are expected to yield an estimated energy savings of $1.5 million per year over the next 25 to 30 years. Additionally, the changes will reduce NAU’s greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2014, four years ahead of the goal outlined in the university’s Climate Action Plan.

“Creating a sustainable campus has been part of Northern Arizona University’s strategic plan for many years,” said NAU President John Haeger.

The project will affect 65 buildings on campus and include upgrades to interior lighting, heating and cooling equipment, plumbing fixtures including installation of low-flow toilets, and improved utility metering. Lindsay Wagner, NAU’s director of sustainability and energy services, said additional buildings will be audited in a future phase of the project.

“This project is a key to our success as we work toward achieving campus carbon neutrality by 2020,” Wagner said. “It also serves as an opportunity for the university to involve students, faculty and staff in energy conservation and increase awareness of campus sustainability efforts.”