Skip to main content

University of North Alabama Finds Innovative Solution to Modernize Facilities

The University of North Alabama (UNA), located in historic Florence, Ala., today announced a partnership to implement a capital recovery and reinvestment project with energy and sustainability expert Schneider Electric to modernize its facilities, drive sustainability efforts and help the university reduce its energy consumption. Schneider Electric already supports energy efficient technologies and programs in over half of all universities and colleges nationwide and is committed to ongoing support of UNA’s long-term sustainability goals.

Commitment to Sustainability on Campus

Today, UNA and Schneider Electric commit to cutting the university’s energy costs 20 percent by the end of 2020. This sustainability initiative will benefit students, faculty, staff and the community at large.

“We are committed to being one of the most sustainable campuses in the nation and are pleased to collaborate with an industry expert like Schneider Electric on this important step in our journey as a leader in higher education,” said Kenneth D. Kitts, President, University of North Alabama.

“Through this partnership, we will be able to reduce our energy and operational costs and reinvest those savings back into our campus through cutting-edge upgrades that will provide a superior learning and working environment.”

UNA interviewed some of the largest energy service companies in the country in search of the ideal partner for a comprehensive sustainability program. Schneider Electric was selected due to the company’s track record, local presence and understanding of UNA’s vision and long-term sustainability goals.

“The partnership between UNA and Schneider Electric provides students with the opportunity to engage in sustainable practices and energy efficient programs on campus,” said Dr. Brenda Webb, Director of the Center for Sustainability, University of North Alabama. “It also potentially provides diverse learning projects for our students that have career and daily living applications.”

Using Technology to Save Energy and Money

Schneider Electric has designed a comprehensive construction project that will touch over 70 UNA facilities. Major improvements to the campus will include smart automation and IT technologies, installation of LED lighting, improvements to heating and cooling systems, updates to the building envelope and roofing, and water reduction technologies, all designed to improve UNA’s energy efficiency and create savings opportunities. Despite limited funding, these new technologies and a proven funding mechanism will help the university do more with less.

“Universities and colleges across the country are challenged to make the most of limited, and in some cases, shrinking operating budgets to support growing campuses. These long-term financial hurdles are not unique to UNA,” said Cindy Conlon, Associate VP of Business & Finance, University of North Alabama. “The partnership with Schneider Electric is an innovative solution that will free up much-needed capital to make significant improvements to our facilities and address a backlog of deferred maintenance without impacting our bottom line.”

The project is funded by an energy savings performance contract (ESPC) to generate a significant amount of savings that can be used to reinvest in improvements for the school and its students. The contract invests $17 million in sustainable and energy efficient infrastructure upgrades that will create energy and operational savings in excess of $27 million over the next 20 years.

Modernizing and Preserving an Historic Campus

Originally founded in 1830, the UNA campus is rich with historical buildings. Many of these facilities are still vital to campus life and underpin the beautiful campus surroundings. Maintaining the history of these spaces while modernizing these facilities are equally important priorities.

“As Alabama’s oldest four-year public university, UNA has some of the most unique historic buildings in the state, as well as some of the newest and most technologically advanced,” said Tammy Fulop, Vice President, Schneider Electric. “We are excited to partner with the university on striking the perfect balance of maintaining history while modernizing learning environments for the 21st century.”

The Partnership

The UNA project adds to Schneider Electric’s portfolio in advancing higher education institutions, joining other well-known institutions like the University of Illinois, Virginia Commonwealth University, North Carolina State and the University of North Texas. The project builds on Schneider Electric’s expertise in driving energy efficiency in the Southeast, having partnered with 40 clients in the state of Alabama alone, saving them over $400 million in energy costs, and helping public entities secure more than $60 million in energy-related grants and rebates.

Over the past 27 years, Schneider Electric has successfully implemented more than 750 energy savings performance contract (ESPC) projects across the nation, saving its clients more than $2 billion. This project delivery method helps publicly funded entities make capital improvements over longer payback periods and offers many long-term benefits such as improved facility efficiency, occupant comfort, financial management and environmental protection.

For more information on how Schneider Electric helps higher education institutions tackle energy efficiency, please visit or contact your local Schneider Electric representative.