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Residents of Sacramento are keenly aware of water conservation, and this is an issue that Grounds and Landscaping Services has addressed head-on. Water conservation on campus is more than just using less water - it's about changing the whole culture of water use in horticulture.

Efforts were made recently to create a more inviting entry point for students and visitors at from the south end of campus. With newer facilities such as AIRC, The Well and Parking Structure III in proximity, the area has become a focal point for foot and automobile traffic.

A large part of those efforts involves planting flower beds that take water conservation into consideration, for example, "the conversion from turf to decomposed granite for the planter beds, which saves thousands of gallons of irrigation water each year," explained Robert Anchor, manager of Grounds and Landscaping Services.

The push for greener landscaping doesn’t end there. Grounds is also exploring the option of utilizing "drought tolerant plant materials and California native species for all proposed landscaping projects."

To top it off, the effort to save water has gone high tech. Anchor revealed that there is an ongoing process to link up the irrigation system with Maxicom, a centralized irrigation control system that should more efficiently monitor irrigation output. And recent advancements were made to "work smarter" in gardening efforts: whereas, at one time, the solution for a dying plant was to give it more water, it now involves a more comprehensive approach that takes soil composition and other factors into consideration. 


Sac State’s Smart Grid project is now in full swing, following the Phase 1 kick-off in the fall that installed new heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) in Capistrano Hall. The majority of work on Eureka and Riverside halls is nearly finished, with Amador Hall next in the queue. Other buildings scheduled during this phase include the Central Plant, Mariposa and Mendocino halls, and Library North and South. Electric metering is close to 75 percent complete in most buildings, with the University Union and residence hall facilities scheduled next week.

The Smart Grid will provide 80 smart meters (one or more) for every building on campus. The meters will record the consumption of electric energy and then communicate the information back to central energy information software, helping to identify poor performing buildings. In addition, new or upgraded HVAC control systems will be installed in 37 campus buildings, which will improve occupant comfort and save energy.

Contractors are currently submitting equipment requirements for phases 2 and 3. Phase 2 will retrofit nine buildings with the new energy management system. The meters and HVAC control systems will integrate communications and power system infrastructure, to allow for robust two-way communications, advanced sensors, and distributed computers to improve the efficiency, reliability and safety of power delivery and use. The project also includes the construction of sixteen electric car charging stations on campus. They will be located in Parking Structure 1, Parking Structure 2, and next to the new Athletic Center.

The work is being funded through an $8.6 million grant, which matches University funds with a $4.3 million Department of Energy (DOE) award. The DOE money was part of a $127 million smart grid infrastructure grant awarded to SMUD through the economic stimulus recovery act. Partnering with SMUD, Sac State was named the home of the Smart Grid. A smart grid delivers electricity from suppliers to consumers using digital technology to save energy, reduce cost and increase reliability. Such a modernized electricity network is being promoted by many as a way of addressing energy independence. The completed system is expected to result in significant monetary savings and reduced electrical consumption for the campus. Work is scheduled for completion in April, 2013.