Energy Usage

It is predicted that global energy demand may double by the year 2050. Energy consumption has far reaching effects on the environment and on our health. Consequently, Pepperdine continues to maximize energy efficiency. Dating back to 1986, Pepperdine has regularly evaluated the Malibu campus for ways to reduce overall energy consumption. The resulting policy and operational changes have conserved energy throughout the campus. This represents one of the more challenging aspects of sustainability as energy consumption connects in some way with all of our sustainability practices and campus operations from transportation, to our current construction projects, to our food and water consumption.

Sky Glow Analysis

Much in the same way that Pepperdine University was one of the leaders in reclaimed water management when the campus was built in the 1970's, the University is now focusing efforts to enhance the dark sky on and around campus. In recognition of the understated environmental implications of sky glow and light pollution, Pepperdine has committed to replace all the existing exterior globe lights to full cut-off LED fixtures, while also voluntarily reducing the overall number of lights. Additionally, highly efficient LED lighting will be installed in the athletic field areas as part of the previously approved Campus Life Project. These changes are the result of a collaborate effort by many members of our university community and in partnership with nationally renowned dark sky compliant lighting experts.
The improved lighting technology will not only reduce energy usage, it will effectively reduce the amount of glare , sky glow and wasted light, while efficiently illuminating the appropriate area. Pepperdine's lighting conversion has already begun with the replacement of newly installed lights around the Firestone Field House and campus crosswalks. To remain consistent with the mindfulness of potential energy savings, the University is also taking on analysis of converting interior lighting to highly efficient LEDs. Looking beyond campus sustainability, Pepperdine University views this physical enhancement as a powerful learning opportunity for its students by preserving the unparalleled connection to the universe through admiration and study of the night sky.

To learn more about light pollution and the International Dark-Sky Association, visit here.

Governor Schwarzenegger Signs AB32


On September 27, 2006 Governor Schwarzenegger signed historic legislation at Pepperdine called the, "Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32)." This Act seeks to bring California's greenhouse gas emissions down to 1990 levels by 2020. It emphasizes cost-effective, technologically-feasible reductions in Greenhouse Gas Emissions and implements a system of declining annual emissions for sources such as refineries, power plants, and industrial facilities.

In response to Governor Schwarzenegger signing the bill, President Benton announced the 10% energy reduction goal, furthering Pepperdine's efforts to become less dependent on fossil fuels, a major source of greenhouse gas emissions.

10% Energy Reduction Goal

Pepperdine President Andrew Benton instituted a campus goal to reduce energy by 10%, which equates to 2.2 million kWh annually. Since 2008, Pepperdine's annual energy consumption has dropped by by 1,631,303 kWH or 7.42%.

Energy Management System

Pepperdine utilizes an Energy Management System (EMS) to control most of the HVAC equipment, some lighting on campus, and to monitor our waste water flow station. Pepperdine can monitor and make adjustments to equipment by any computer on or off campus. The EMS incorporates energy saving techniques which include:

  • Turning the equipment on and off by using schedules
  • Variable cooling and heating setpoints, based on temperature conditions
  • Variable air handler static supply air pressure, based on building requirements
  • Turning chillers and boilers off when not needed, to maintain temperature setpoints
  • Using air handler economizers to maintain temperature setpoints when possible

The EMS gives Pepperdine the ability to monitor and make changes quickly and keep our students, faculty, and staff in as much comfort as possible while minimizing the amount of energy used. The EMS also provides troubleshooting capabilities so that most problems can be analyzed and corrected quickly.

Alternative Energy

Through Southern California Edison, 21% of our electricity comes from renewable resources. The renewable energies are derived from five sources, which include 35% wind, 47% geothermal, 6% solar, 6% biomass, and 6% small hydro. The University's endowment is also invested in renewable energy funds.

Energy Building Standards

Pepperdine's energy performance standards go beyond code for all buildings. Both new construction and remodel projects are assessed for ways to incorporate sustainable energy features into the facility. Not every measure is included in every building, but where feasible and complementary to the facility's purpose, such measures are incorporated. These include:

  • Providing more efficient climate control systems
  • Tinting windows with solar reflective film
  • Using optimal solar orientation and energy efficient glass
  • Motion sensors and electronic timers to shut off lights and HVAC
  • Solar sun shade (Elkins Auditorium)

HVAC Systems

Heating and cooling is the largest energy consumer within most buildings. While estimates vary, heating and cooling systems can account for up to 56% of a buildings energy consumption. Pepperdine seeks to mitigate and minimize this potential by regularly evaluating the HVAC systems to ensure their energy efficiency. The efficiency of Pepperdine's HVAC systems is enhanced through:

  • Natural ventilation
  • Centrally controlled automation systems - computerized system that controls HVAC and lighting to reduce energy consumption
  • Chiller water cooling - uses primarily water instead of Freon to cool the air
  • Gas-fired hydronic heating systems - uses natural gas which is cleaner, produces less carbon dioxide, and is more plentiful than fossil fuels


Lighting within an environment has profound effects on health, safety, morale, comfort, and productivity. It is imperative that we provide good light quantity and quality while also conserving energy. Currently, 99% of all lighting on the Malibu campus is energy efficient. A campus wide lighting audit in 2002 resulted in of the following changes, which are representative of the types of measures implemented around campus:

  • Replacement of most incandescent bulbs with fluorescents (which on average use 75% less electricity)
  • Reflectors to reduce the number of lights per fixture
  • Reduction of the number of lights used per fixture
  • Installation of electronic timers to turn off lights when buildings are not in use
  • Installation of motion sensors to light rarely used areas
  • Turning off redundant lighting throughout campus
  • Use of Light Emitting Diode (LED) lights, which are highly efficient and last, on average, for 50,000 hours. LED accent lighting was installed in two locations on campus.

Drescher Light Reduction Program

As part of the 10% reduction plan, Drescher Graduate Campus has been completely renovated with sustainable lighting methods. Motion sensors have been installed in all offices and classrooms that detect when to turn off lights and HVAC systems. The motion sensors alone save $3,218 a year. Light bulbs have also been replaced, moving from 1,920 32-watt lamps to 1,280 28-watt high-efficiency lamps. The change of lamps saves $17,008 a year.

ENERGY STAR Appliances

ENERGY STAR is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy which strives to help people save money and protect the environment through energy efficient products and practices. In order to reduce the energy needed to run appliances on campus, approximately 30% are ENERGY STAR rated.