Since its foundation in the 1940s, UVU has been dedicated to energy conservation. The campus was built during World War II which instilled a heritage of efficiency in both the education of students and the landscape of campus.
This history was preserved when the campus was replanted to its present Orem Utah site in the mid-1970s. The campus was built upon a sand and gravel quarry. As the site was developed, the concept of "UNIT" building and ground source heat recovery were incorporated into the construction.
The campus was designed with unit construction buildings, a concept far ahead of its time. Basically, the buildings were built much like a "LEGO" block system so that the grid could be adapted in all directions. This has allowed UVU to expand in a much more cost-effective and efficient manner. Buildings can be added to an already efficient system instead of creating new systems for each structure.
UVU's geo thermal heating and cooling system has been one of the key features of sustainability on campus. For nearly forty years, UVU has used geothermal wells to heat and cool the buildings around campus. A large aquifer that lies under the campus makes this possible. Although the temperature changes outside, the water inside the aquifer stays relatively constant throughout the year. The water is pumped up a well on one side of campus, is used to warm the air, and then pumped back into the aquifer on the other side of campus. No water is actually removed, tampered with, or otherwise altered. The use of the earth's natural warmth reduces the need to burn natural gas and creates a pollution-free heating system. For every hour of operations in heating season we save 14,400,000 BTUs of natural gas. That's approximately 14,400 cubic feet of gas per hour. In a bad heating season that's over 200 million cubic feet of natural gas! As new buildings are constructed around campus, they are added to the system.
The "block" building system also allows UVU to more efficiently implement campus-wide energy upgrades. In 2007, the entire main campus was refitted with over 9,000 new lights. Then, in 2011, the outlying buildings and systems not originally visited were converted to energy-saving fixtures and controls.
Today, we are selecting cost-effective conversions to new LED lighting fixtures. As the costs of these new technologies decrease and become cost-effective, campus-wide "block" development and conversions will be carried out.