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Reminder to University staff: Take the Energy Bowl Challenge to conserve energy (and win pizza!)

Posted in NEWS on Friday, December 20th, 2013

[Originally posted by MyVU]

Note: The Medical Center is going green for the holidays a little differently. VUMC employees, please refer to this story for more details.

Last week, Plant Operations implemented several intensive energy-conservation measures throughout University Central for the three weeks of winter break and invited faculty, staff and students remaining on campus during that time to support those efforts by competing in the Energy Bowl Challenge.

The building that reduces its energy consumption by the greatest percentage compared to this time last year will win a pizza party of up to 20 pies.

“We believe we can reduce our electrical consumption by at least 500,000 kilowatt hours. The cost savings approximately equals a year’s tuition for one student,” said Mark Petty, assistant vice chancellor for Plant Operations. “We have had great response to the Energy Bowl Challenge so far. Even several of the off-campus buildings have asked to join the competition.”

Plant Ops has given all buildings a head start by turning off lights in all unoccupied areas and setting all thermostats down to 65 degrees. Off-campus buildings, child care facilities, most labs and other climate-sensitive research areas are exempt from these restrictions. A complete list of affected areas is available here.

In order to win the challenge, employees must minimize their own energy consumption as well.

“Lights, electronics and other equipment such as chemical fume hoods account for about 40 percent of the average university’s energy use, with the remaining 60 percent going toward heating, cooling and hot water,” said Andrea George, director of Vanderbilt’s Sustainability and Environmental Management Office. “By consistently turning off lights and electronics and shutting fume hood sashes in labs, members of the Vanderbilt community can significantly decrease energy use.”

We are all cognizant of the financial challenges facing our university and this is a wonderful way to cut back and save the equivalent of an full undergraduate scholarship plus room and board.”“With such a large portion of the University population away from campus, the winter holiday season is one of the least disruptive times of year to undertake a mass energy conservation effort such as this one,” Provost Richard McCarty said.

Lights off

Plant Ops will turn out the lights in all unoccupied areas. Employees are asked to turn all lights out when they leave an area.

Thermostats down

Additionally, Plant Ops will turn the thermostats in most University Central areas down to 65 degrees for the duration—even in areas that operate normally during the break. These areas include Kirkland Hall, Sarratt and athletics facilities in addition to almost all academic buildings and centers. Employees working in these areas are asked to maintain the 65-degree temperatures during working hours.

“These are relatively small sacrifices that will not only conserve energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but will help conserve university resources as well,” said Jerry Fife, vice chancellor for administration. “I encourage everyone remaining on campus during the holidays to participate in the Energy Bowl Challenge.”

What won’t change

Childcare areas, occupied campus residences, off-campus buildings and areas that house climate-sensitive research environments, materials and instruments will remain at their usual temperatures. These include the Baker Building, Vanderbilt Child Care, occupied dorm rooms, labs in Wilson, Olin, Featheringill, Stevenson Center, Biomolecular NMR and climate-sensitive portions of Blair and the Vanderbilt Libraries.

Please note that the power plant will not be reducing either steam pressure or temperature during this period, in order to meet ongoing needs for sterilization and other essential functions.

Plant Operations will monitor energy usage data and conduct random audits throughout the winter break to ensure that lights in unoccupied areas are being turned out and the thermostats are turned down.

Other tips:

Personnel remaining on campus should:

  • Bring a sweater to work.
  • If you have an individual thermostat, keep it at 65.
  • Do not use a space heater—they pose fire hazards.
  • Turn off all lights, computers (if allowed), monitors, copiers, printers, and other electronics and equipment when you leave.
  • Close all fume hoods when not in use.

Personnel taking time off should:

  • Turn off all lights in your office/personal work area.
  • If you have your own thermostat, turn it down to 65.
  • Turn off and unplug all electronics and electronic equipment to prevent wasting “vampire energy”—the small amount of power that trickles into electronics even when they are switched off. If computers must remain on, turn monitors off.
  • Close all fume hoods wherever possible.

For more ways to conserve energy in your work area, please visit the SustainVU website.

For more information about the Energy Bowl Challenge, contact Darren Bevill at 322-2622.

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