Building Energy Use

Last Revised: Friday, November 13, 2020

Responsible University Administrator: Vice Chancellor, Business & Finance

Responsible University Office: Facilities Maintenance & Operations

Policy Contact: Kirk Conger


This policy applies to all buildings owned and operated by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL).

Policy Statement

Guiding Principles
UNL is committed to reducing energy use, increasing utility operational efficiencies, and reducing energy costs to the greatest degree possible. Energy management and conservation initiatives have been put in place in order to achieve greater efficiency. UNL will:

  • Reduce energy costs, eliminate waste, and conserve energy resources by using energy-efficient and cost-effective technology.
  • Incorporate energy efficiency into the decision-making process during the design and acquisition of facilities and equipment.
  • Increase energy efficiency through capital investment and improved operations.
  • Establish partnerships with government and outside organizations to provide technical assistance and to share costs on energy-conserving initiatives to the extent possible.

Temperature Settings
Campus buildings are equipped with a variety of environmental controls including occupancy sensors in selected locations which regulate the temperatures and ventilation in campus spaces. Heating, Ventilation, and Air Condition (HVAC) operations will mirror the hours of primary building occupancy. Space temperatures maintained during designated unoccupied hours may not be suitable for normal activities. For the purpose of this policy “primary building occupancy” shall be defined as Monday – Friday, 7:30 am through 5:30 pm. Buildings with evening or Saturday classes have different HVAC shutdown times depending upon each building’s classroom schedule. 

Temperature settings in all spaces during occupied periods will be:

  • Heated to a target temperature of to 70°F during the winter. Whenever it is economically and technically feasible, night setback features of the building automation system will be utilized to allow temperatures to drop back to 55°F during unoccupied periods.
  • Cooled to a target temperature of 74°F in centrally air conditioned spaces during the summer. Whenever it is economically and technically feasible, night setback features of the building automation system will be utilized to allow temperatures to rise to 85°F during unoccupied periods.
  • The only exceptions to this policy are special areas such as animal care units or research facilities that require constant, cooler, or warmer temperatures.

Building thermostats shall be set by Facilities Maintenance and Operations (FMO) to provide the greatest operating efficiency. Temperatures may fluctuate within the building around these set points and every effort will be made to stay within 2°F of this range. Supplemental electric heaters shall only be used in case of long-term system malfunctions and as authorized and provided by FMP. No other use of electric heaters is allowed and unauthorized heaters will be removed.

Occupants who control their own thermostats are expected to adhere to these settings.

Occupant Opportunities
Technology and policies can only go so far in reducing energy consumption. In the end, those of us who work in University buildings have numerous opportunities to save on energy expenditures and achieving a “greener” university. 

The following steps could greatly assist the effort to control costs and environmental impact.

  • Report observations of excessive energy use and concerns to FMP at (402) 472-1550.
  • Turn off lights in any room when lights are no longer needed.
  • Turn off computers, monitors, printers and photocopiers when you leave your office for the evening.
  • Turn off coffee pots and similar appliances when they are not in use. Radios and TVs should be turned off when out of the office.
  • Wear clothing appropriate to the season and weather – lightweight clothing in summer and warmer clothes in winter. Wear layers so you can adapt to varying conditions in your workspace and still be comfortable.
  • In winter, drapes or blinds should be open when windows are in direct sunlight or to utilize daylight over artificial light, and closed otherwise. During summer, close drapes or blinds to prevent direct sunlight from entering the room. Try not to use windows for temperature control.
  • Use revolving doors where available. Vestibule doors should not be propped open and should always close and latch behind you.
  • Turn off small exhaust fans when they are not needed. Close laboratory fume hood doors whenever the hood is not being used (and whenever possible, even during use).
  • Notify your building maintenance reporter if your work area is overheated in the winter or overcooled in summer.
  • Do not habitually open a window to get rid of excess heat in the winter.

Reason for Policy

The University faces budget restraints. Expenditures for utilities compete directly with resources available for the instructional program, including faculty and staff compensation. Every dollar we save in energy expenses will flow directly into more programmatic expenditures. Accordingly, UNL has adopted this policy as part of an effort to maximize the resources available for its core missions. Similarly, UNL should be a leader in its efforts to reduce carbon emissions and to otherwise put as small a footprint on the world’s resources.

Additional Contacts

Facilities Service Desk -



  • This policy was reformatted in 2020 and temperature limits were updated in accordance with Cenergistic program.