Green in Higher Education: Energy Management

Sean O’Connell - Contributing Writer
Posted on Friday 29th May 2009
In our region there are many institutions of higher education with “Green” policies. The three institutions that seem to have the most adaptable and most rapidly implementable programs are Temple University, University of Pennsylvania, and Drexel University. Each has a Sustainability Department with some level of authority in enforcing energy policy. The most common policy is the prohibition of incandescent light bulbs. Already illegal in most parts of Europe, these are our old fashion light bulbs that cost around one dollar each. Replacing these with the light bulbs that have a higher upfront cost, LED or fluorescent lights, not only save the amount of energy used to light a bulb, but also cut back on residual heat created by the light. An incandescent light bulb costs around $7.00 a year to keep lit, while an LED or fluorescent light costs around $1.60. There is a huge savings here for Universities and for individuals. These Universities also require quality thermostats and keep in place strict policies on heating and cooling systems. The higher cost of a better thermostat saves energy and makes up for itself in the long run. The policy of Temple University is to keep all occupied rooms around 76 degrees in peak summer hours. In winter 68 is the target temperature. At night all institutions keep temperatures in their buildings around 10 degrees cooler than during the day. This has saved a great deal in energy consumption and costs. Having a higher quality thermostat can give you greater control of temperature and also energy costs. The biggest uses of energy can be our computer, printers, faxes, scanners, and monitors. Another lesson learned from our institutions is keeping all of these devices on a surge protector. Not only does this help if you overload an outlet, but using the switch on the protector to disconnect these devices from the outlet when not in use can save ghost energy costs. It may seem like a pain bending down to flip that switch, but there are surge protectors with a foot switch to power off. Also very important is maximizing the sleep setting on these devices. Having devices in sleep mode for five minutes saves a substantial amount of energy over having them sit on for five minutes. Penn has also started an experiment in student dorms, which involved students monitoring their own energy uses and having it analyzed for saving potential. This project can have some exciting finds when finished. In the next piece we will be looking at some creative ways to recycle and reduce and balance our want of convenience with costs and waste.

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