OGDEN -- Weber State University's Dee Events Center, the site of Friday's commencement ceremony, has a new, hard-won certificate of its own.
The Dee Events Center has taken top honors in the entertainment/cultural facility category of the EPA's Energy Star national building competition, also known as the Environmental Protection Agency's Battle of the Buildings.
The Dee Events Center cut its energy consumption by more than 20 percent, through energy-saving renovations and through energy-efficiency training of the building's staff.
"Energy efficiency has been a significant priority at Weber State University since 2006," said Jennifer Bodine, WSU sustainability specialist.
"The university did an investment-grade audit in 2006 and realized there was a tremendous amount of money to be saved, as well as the benefits to the environment. In the past two or three years, we have really seen benefits from the projects we have implemented on campus.
"In 2012, we saved $937,000, and at the end of this fiscal year, which ends June 30, we expect to have saved well over a million dollars."
The Dee Events Center project included converting the arena lighting system from halide to 100 percent LED.
"We wanted to get rid of the hum the old lights were producing," said Jody Lake, Dee Events Center director. "During particular times in performances, it was very noticeable. It wasn't a malfunction, it just came with the system."
Updating the light system also offered the opportunity to improve illumination for sports players and the crowd.
"When you have a round, dome structure, trying to distribute light equally on a rectangular sports floor can be a problem," Lake said.
"It makes for dim spots. We weren't exactly sure what the result would be in energy savings. We were hoping for something good, but what we got was much better than we ever thought possible. And we have benefited in many ways besides energy consumption."
The new lighting system is better, quieter, more energy efficient and requires less-frequent light bulb replacement, Lake said.
The new design also offers a greater ability to control lights. Lake said the old lighting system could be all on or all off. The new system allows for lighting just parts of the court for dramatic effect at certain times, such as during event or player introductions.
"Our crowds are really enjoying those dramatic effects," she said.
Other energy-efficiency/cost-reduction projects at the events center include new, high-efficiency chillers and updating building controls from an inefficient pneumatic system, which required humans to flip switches, to a modern, digitally controlled system.
Weber State also has been honored for a second consecutive year with inclusion in the Princeton Review's guide to "green colleges."
"That's for a more all-around sustainability effort, campuswide," Bodine said.
"It's for efforts to incorporate sustainability into academics, the classroom and research. It's a combined effort with faculty and staff, working and striving for sustainability. We're pretty proud of that. It shows the results of our teamwork and team effort."
WSU professor Hal Crimmel, a member of the WSU Environmental Issues Committee, said the honors are a result of combined and sustained effort campuswide.
"The success of WSU's Environmental Issues Committee is due to unique partnerships between faculty members, students, staff, administrators and community members," Crimmel said.
"We've been able to work together very productively over the last six years to innovate in the areas of curriculum, campus programming, student involvement and facilities. The many established partnerships will help WSU continue to excel in sustainability-related work in coming years."