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Office and Classroom


Large energy reductions can be achieved in offices and classrooms, even when these rooms are in use. Power–conserving tips related to work & learning are provided here…

Heating and Cooling

The largest percentage of energy used on a university campus (about 40%) goes towards heating and cooling indoor spaces, according to the U.S. Department of Energy1. Decreasing demand for cooling is key in minimizing spikes in summer power consumption and can go a long way in reaching our overall goal of a 15 percent reduction (or more) in power usage.

Thermostats

If you can control the thermostat in your room, the suggested thermostat settings are 75°F in summer and 68-70°F in winter. A setting of 73°F in the summer uses 50% more energy than a setting of 78°F2.

If you can control your thermostat, and/or 75°F is too uncomfortable, adjust it more radically when everyone leaves for the day. The typical office is unoccupied 60% -70% of each day; classrooms are occupied even less. If your area has a manual thermostat, ask the person who usually leaves the area last to adjust the thermostat. If you have a programmable thermostat, take advantage of its capabilities and set evening/weekend temperatures at appropriate levels to generate energy savings.

If you have a manual non-pneumatic thermostat, consider investing in programmable thermostats for your area. Plant Operations and Plant Services can install a programmable thermostat for your department if you place a work order.

Thermostat Management Tip: cranking the temperature down to a very low temperature doesn’t cool an area faster. Thermostats and cooling systems work together to cool an area based on a fixed time to reach the setpoint temperature – same goes for heating3. Avoid the thermostat yo-yo effect. If you think the indoor temperature seems extremely cold or hot, call Plant Operations (4-WORK) for those on main campus, or Plant Services (322-2041) for those in VUMC and alert them to the temperature extreme. A simple repair can save a lot of energy and improve comfort.

These thermostats have been set to 68° F in the winter and 70° F in the summer.

Can you really feel a difference of two degrees on the thermostat in your office? Watch this video from ABC News on winter thermostat settings.

     

Steam heat in Peabody Library

Some buildings are heated and cooled by steam and chilled water (instead of directly by electricity or natural gas). And in some buildings, the Plant Operations Department can centrally control the temperature set point. Thus, it is important to let them know if the building seems unusually cold or hot, instead of opening windows, bringing in fans or space heaters to regulate the temperature (which uses even more energy), or turning on the heat in the summer.

 Air Vents and Space Heaters

Don’t block air vents with paper or cardboard or accidentally block vents with bookcases or other items. As much as 25% more energy is required to distribute air if your vents are blocked4.

Avoid using space heaters. They are dangerous and waste energy. Watch this video from Marriott Hotels on how they are conserving energy in their office spaces, including the avoidance of space heaters. (More earth-friendly tips for offices are included in this video – for free!)

Shades, Windows, and Clothing

Close shades and blinds during the hottest period of the day in the summer to keep heat out and cool air in. Open shades during the winter to take advantage of the natural heating. A major source of heat gain (increasing cooling demand in the summer) is the sun5Avoid opening windows in air conditioned or heated areas. If you need to open the windows, it could be a sign that the heating and air conditioning system is not working properly.

 

Dressing in Layers

 Accept more seasonal indoor temperature settings to avoid expensive (and sometimes wasteful) settings, especially during curtailment periods or energy spikes. Dress for the season and in layers to help moderate your own personal temperature.  

 

The End Result

If Vanderbilt decreases its electricity demand for heating and air conditioning by 15%, it could avoid consuming up to 3.6 megawatt-hours of electricity in a day on peak demand days!

But what does this mean?

3.6 megawatt-hours of electricity is the same amount of power consumed by 83 average-sized homes in Nashville in a day. That’s a lot of juice, Commodore Fans.

Check The Math

40% of power for heating and air conditioning x 60 megawatt-hours consumption per day (on peak days) = 24 megawatt-hours

15% of 24 megawatt-hours = 3.6 megawatt-hours

Energy consumption of one average house in Nashville for a day = 0.043 megawatt-hours6

References

1 U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Office, Building Technologies Program. “University Buildings”, 01/27/06.

2 Nashville Electric Service PowerNotes, July 2008.

3 Energy Star web page “Proper Use Guidelines for Programmable Thermostats“, 2008.

4 Energy Star web page Energy Star at Home and at Work August 2007.

5 ACC Environmental Consultants, Energy Saving Measures for Office Building Tenants“.

6 Nashville Electric Service web page “Residential Rates“, 2013.

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Lighting

Lighting accounts for about 22% of the energy use at a typical university, according to the U.S. Department of Energy1. Decreasing demand for power by decreasing lighting demand can go a long way in reaching our overall goal of a 15 percent reduction (or more) in power usage. Some suggestions for curbing our energy usage related to lighting are listed below.

Have you heard the myth that it uses more energy to turn a light on and off frequently than to just leave it on? MythBusters set out to bust this myth and were successful! Turning off lights is the way to save energy, even if the room is unoccupied only for a few minutes. Click Here to get Mythbusters’ details on how “lights off” trumps “leave lights on”.

Turning off lights during summer afternoons is especially important, when the demand for electricity is at its peak. Turning off lights and utilizing day-lighting strategies can reduce energy demand by up to 50 percent2.

   

Natural Light Improves Well-Being !

Switch to Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) bulbs wherever possible. Energy Star-rated CFLs use 75% less energy than normal light bulbs and last up to 10 times longer3. There are many different kinds of CFLs available, and Vanderbilt recycles CFLs that (eventually) burn out.

Reduce or eliminate the use of halogen floor lamps where possible as well. Halogen floor lamps can be dangerous because they operate at very high temperatures; they also use two to three times the energy of a traditional fluorescent bulb4.

Can energy conservation occur in offices and cubicles? Absolutely! Watch this video on how Marriott Hotels is conserving energy in their office spaces, along with other earth-friendly tips.

The End Result

If Vanderbilt decreases its lighting demand by 15%, it could avoid consuming almost two megawatt-hours of electricity in a day on peak demand days!

But what does this mean?

Two megawatt-hours of electricity is the same amount of power consumed by 46 average-sized homes in Nashville in a day. That’s a lot of juice, Commodore Fans.

Check The Math

22% of power for lighting x 60 megawatt-hours consumption per day on peak days = 13.2 megawatt-hours

15% of 13.2 megawatt-hours = 1.98 megawatt-hours

Energy consumption of one average house in Nashville for a day = 0.043 megawatt-hours5

References

1 U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Office, Building Technologies Program. “University Buildings”, 01/27/06.

2 Energy Center of Wisconsin, Energy Savings from Daylighting: A Controlled Experiment, Report No. 233-1, May 2008.

3 Energy Star web page “Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs, 2013.

4 California Energy Commission web page Lighting Efficiency Information, 2013.

5 Nashville Electric Service web page “Residential Rates“, 2013.

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Computers and Equipment

Office equipment, computers, and appliances account for 17% of energy use at a typical university, according to the U.S. Department of Energy1. This percentage could be higher for Medical Center buildings that operate around the clock. Unplugging office equipment not in use and using energy-savings settings can go a long way in reducing Vanderbilt’s overall energy demand by 15% or more. Some suggestions for curbing our energy usage related to office equipment are listed below.

Computers

Use the “sleep mode” and “hibernate” settings on computers and monitors. Step-by-Step instructions related to enabling energy savings settings on computers are provided by Information Technology Services. If you need assistance on establishing sleep mode settings for computers and monitors, contact your LAN Manager.

…a computer in “sleep” mode or “hibernate” mode typically consumes less than 10% of its typical operating power consumption?

Turning off your computer saves even more energy. Click here to read more about when it’s best to just power down. Even though there is a small surge in energy when a computer starts up, it’s still worth it2.

Furthermore, today’s computers are actually designed to withstand frequent shut-downs. Using energy savings settings and turning computers off extends the life of the computer3. If you are not allowed to turn off your computer, then turn off the monitor! Monitors can consume 30% of the energy from a typical system. An LCD monitor uses 30% less energy than an old-fashioned CRT monitor4.

Enabling sleep mode features for a monitor is just as important. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that 2,000 kilowatts of electricity per year can be saved for every 10 monitors that have its sleep mode features enabled5. That same amount of energy could provide power to a home in Nashville for six weeks6.

Office Equipment

Unplug battery chargers and equipment when not in use. Plug-in battery chargers for cell phones and other devices can use up to 20 times more energy than is stored in the device’s battery-even when not actively charging a device, according to an EnergyStar web site7.

Unplug electronics when not in use. TVs, DVD players, entertainment systems, and similar devices draw power around the clock. See public service announcements on this topic from ABC News and Get Connected TV.

Utilize sleep mode settings for printers, copiers, and fax machines as well. Similar energy saving features (and misconceptions) surround computers and office equipment alike. Today’s imaging devices are designed to accommodate sleep mode settings and shut-downs, and using energy savings settings (along with turning machines off when they are not in use) extends the life of the device8. Even though there is a small surge in energy when an imaging device starts up, these practices save energy8.

…and please turn off this equipment after office hours, as most offices are unoccupied 60%-70% of each day!

Using the double-sided printing feature on EnergyStar-rated printers and copiers saves energy and reduces paper use significantly9. Even if your imaging equipment isn’t EnergyStar-rated, double-sided printing is still worth doing! It takes 10 times more energy to make a piece of paper than it does to copy an image to it9.

 

Also, use the automatic paper feeder on copiers and printers instead of the manual feed tray; manual feeds use more energy10. And make sure that the copier is properly sized for your area’s workload. A mid-volume printer can use 70% more energy than a small volume copier. Conversely, a mid-volume printer uses less energy than several small printers10. Link printers and copiers to a network and save electricity!

The End Result

If Vanderbilt decreases its power demand for computers, peripherals, and electronics by 15%, it could avoid consuming up to 1.5 megawatt-hours of electricity a day on peak days!

But what does this mean?

That’s the same amount of electricity consumed by 35 average-sized homes in Nashville in a day.

Check The Math

17% of power for equipment x 60 megawatt-hours of consumption per day on peak days = 10.2 megawatts

15% of 10.2 megawatt-hours = 1.53 megawatt-hours

Energy consumption of one average house in Nashville for a day = 0.043 megawatt-hours6

References

1 U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Office, Building Technologies Program. “University Buildings”, 01/27/06.

2 U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Office, A Consumer’s Guide to Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy: When to Turn Off Computers, 07/22/08.

3 Energy Star Podcast No. 4.0, Computers, 10/25/07.

4 Dell Computers web page Frequently Asked Questions about Dell and the Environment, September 2003.

5 Energy Star web page Sleep in Good: For Computer Monitors and Your Bottom Line, September 2003.

6 Nashville Electric Service web page “Residential Rates“, 2013.

7 Energy Star® web page External Power Supplies, 2008 .

8 Energy Star® Podcast No. 4.1, Imaging Equipment, 10/25/07.

9 Federal Electronics Challenge web page Energy Conservation with Energy Star, 2/3/11.

10 Eugene (Oregon) Water & Electric Board web page “Be an Energy Sleuth at Work”, Spring 2001.

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Miscellaneous Items

Lighting, heating & cooling, and office equipment consume a big part of Vanderbilt’s energy budget, and yet there are so many other activities on campus that consume energy. Decreasing demand for power can be achieved by modifying practices in many areas. Think of One thing you can do each day to save energy.

Elevators

Use the elevator wisely and increase your use of the stairs. Consider these elevator facts:

Elevators generally use 3-5% of electricity consumed in a typical building, anywhere from 1,900 to 15,000 kilowatts per year1, around the same amount of power that the average residence consumes annually in Nashville2.

Elevators use electricity going up and going down; elevators are not “zero-net energy” machinery1.

Elevator use generates heat. Using elevators in hot summer months increases demand on air conditioning systems1.

Vanderbilt has hundreds of elevators. And as you know, there are significant health benefits to using the stairs!

Refrigerators & Freezers

In most households, the refrigerator is the single biggest energy consuming kitchen appliance3. It could be a big energy guzzler in your office as well. And did you know there are more than 47 million fridges that are over ten years old in the U.S.3?

When it comes time to replace that old refrigerator, purchase an EnergyStar-rated replacement. EnergyStar-qualified models use at least 20% less energy than their modern counterparts, and 40% of the energy compared to conventional models sold as recently as 20013.

Keep the refrigerators running efficiently by following these steps:

  • Set the refrigerator temperature at 36° to 39° F and freezer at 0° to 5° F4.
  • Check refrigerator and freezer gaskets annually for leaks and wear, and replace as needed5.
  • Regularly clean out “dust bunnies” from underneath and behind refrigerators5. Refrigerator coils that are covered with dust lose their efficiency. Also, regularly inspect the freezer for ice build-up and defrost as needed5.
  • Open doors on refrigerators as little as necessary5.

The End Result

Can energy conservation really make a difference? Absolutely! When energy curtailment notices have been sent out in previous years, the Vanderbilt community has come together to reduce energy consumption by 8-12%. Let’s make this a year-long commitment and conserve energy by 15% or more!

You can make a difference! A recent EnergyStar study demonstrated that occupant behavior change in six key areas can lead to a 15% decrease in energy use6!

The six key areas in the EnergyStar study were: (1) turning off computers and peripherals, (2) turning off lights and harvesting daylight, (3) turning off task lighting (those little lights in library cubicles or desks), (4) using “sleep mode” on computers and monitors, (5) using EnergyStar-rated equipment & computers, and (6) having an energy conservation campaign.

But don’t stop with these six conservation practices; opportunities to save energy exist throughout your workplace!

References

1 Sachs, Harvey M. Opportunities for Elevator Energy Efficiency Improvements, American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, April 2005.

2 Nashville Electric Service web page “Residential Rates“, 2013.

3 Energy Star web page Refrigerators & Freezers2008.

4 Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) web page “Energy Saving Tips”, 2008.

5 New England Gas Company,Energy Saving Tips, 2008.

6 Energy Star web page, “Best Practices to Improve Energy Performance”, 2005.

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