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Christopher Martin Jr., was asked to figure out how to make heating and cooling systems in campus buildings operate more efficiently. “We salivate for opportunities like this to find out what we can do,” said Martin, the University’s director of energy management.

In April 2009 Martin’s boss issued this audacious goal: In the next two weeks, put together a plan to save 15 percent of energy costs; then have that plan in place by the time students return to campus in August.

Martin had $200,000 to fund the pilot project that, if successful, held the potential to save millions.

By almost any measure, it was mission impossible, and Martin knew he would need an arsenal of secret weapons to pull it off. Martin found just that on the day he met with a group of HVAC experts to enlist eight volunteers who would form four, two-member teams to implement the project.

Todd Freeman was one of the secret weapons. “I did not volunteer, I was volunteered,” he said.

Freeman is now the only one of the original eight still assigned primarily to the project, which has yielded a cumulative savings that inched past $10 million at the end of 2011. A broad team of HVAC experts support the program as part of their normal job duties.

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Published February 1, 2012.