University leaders gather to discuss reducing energy use



North Carolina universities hope to collectively cut $1 billion in spending over the next few decades.

They are meeting at Appalachian State University to figure out how to do it.

At Appalachian State University, they have already reduced their energy use by more than 2 percent since 2004. Leaders there hope by 2050, they will remove as much carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as they emit.

On Tuesday, Eyewitness News was shown everything from the rooftop solar panels that heat water to the wind turbine that produces enough energy each year to power roughly a dozen homes. Even the toilets there flush differently to conserve water.   

All of these ideas are being discussed by university leaders this week.

“The energy summit is very important because we want to reduce the cost of higher education, we want to stimulate the economy and we want to educate students,” said Ged Moody with Appalachian State University.

On Tuesday, Eyewitness News found representatives from each of the state universities in work groups. Phil Jones said UNC Charlotte has been finding ways to conserve energy by retrofitting older buildings and making new ones better. The hope is by exchanging ideas with each other, they can find ways to increase their use of sustainable energy and lower costs for students.

“It has been a tremendous experience, just talking to all our colleagues around the state -- getting ideas, sharing ideas,” Jones said. “There are going to be some great things that come out of this conference.”