Over the summer, Wilson Hall and Arnold Dining Center didn’t just get the white glove treatment, they received the “green glove” too.
As part of the Corvallis Energy Challenge, everything from building door seals to kitchen freezer temperature was scrutinized to find ways to boost energy efficiency and control energy cost. Challenge auditor Cassandra Robertson led the full energy audit of the 350-student dormitory. Drew Desilet, University Housing and Dining Services safety and inspection coordinator, and OSU Sustainability Coordinator Brandon Trelstad, assisted, hoping to take the findings and leverage them across campus.
“With current utility consumption, we anticipate a 15-20 percent increase in costs this year,” said Desilet. “We want to keep the cost of doing business and costs to students down, so we’re constantly looking at ways to be more efficient.”
“OSU has several (energy innovations) underway already, including changing to more efficient lighting,” said Robertson, noting that UHDS is ahead of the curve in asking students to participate by recommending “energy start” refrigerators if they desire one in their room. “The most important thing is to keep electronics and lights turned off as much as possible.” She recommended power saving options for computer system hibernation and occupancy sensors for public areas.
The report also outlined potential needs in weather-stripping of door thresholds, attic insulation, programmable thermostat and room heater controls, pipe insulation, refrigerator maintenance, dishwasher unit upgrades and warming unit seals. In one case, the temperature in a freezer in Arnold Hall measured 15 degrees, much colder than the 32 degrees required to comply with Benton County Health code. With a minor adjustment, less energy is now being used to maintain the required temperature.
“There were not many surprises,” said Desilet. “Within our peer institutions in the PAC-10, our housing department is doing more than most. We have all the big items on our radar and are making energy improvements on a continuous basis across campus.” For example, Desilet noted, OSU is on a five-year plan to upgrade the heating systems in residential halls so that they are fully monitored with sensors, etc.
The audit is part of an intentional, campus-wide movement toward greater energy responsibility – a movement that has won accolades recently from the Environmental Protection Agency, Kaplan and Sustainable Endowments Institute. OSU has also committed to being a “climate neutral” campus, and students overwhelmingly approved a “green energy” fee last year.
“We’re looking beyond trends, or the “greenwashing,” that is often done in the name of sustainability,” said Desilet. “We’re committed to being good stewards and contributing positively to OSU’s sustainability efforts.”
OSU UHDS is one of 50 businesses that the Corvallis Energy Challenge audited. After three months, Robertson will follow-up to assess which measures UHDS was able to address and if there are some areas the program can help.
The Corvallis Energy Challenge is a collaboration between the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition and Energy Trust of Oregon.
The Corvallis Sustainability Coalition is made up of more than 85 local nonprofit groups, businesses, educational institutions and city government to promote sustainable practices.
Energy Trust is charged with encouraging a transformation in the state’s energy markets toward sustainable resources by offering free energy audits to find energy waste and suggest ways to conserve. The nonprofit was created in 2002 by the Oregon Public Utility Commission and is funded through a 3 percent “public purposes charge” collected by energy companies.
~ by Jeanne Silsby
Top 10 Ideas to Reduce Energy Use on Campus
- Set your computer to enter standby after 30 minutes and to turn off the monitor after 10 minutes. Use standby or turn computers off at night.
- Request a building sustainability audit from the Sustainability Office.
- Turn off printers and other electrical equipment at night. Unplug, or use power strips, to disconnect equipment and eliminate phantom loads.
- In winter, layer clothing and avoid using inefficient space heaters. Keep thermostats at or below 68 degrees. In summer, use fans and light, breathable clothing. If you have AC, set it at 78 degrees or higher. Make sure windows are closed if you’re using either heat or AC.
- Turn off lights in unoccupied areas. Contact the Sustainability Office if you are interested in using occupancy sensors or other lighting controls.
- Use natural light and task lighting to focus energy where needed and use compact fluorescent lamps where possible.
- In the lab, turn off equipment when not in use (or use timers to do it for you); keep fume hood sashes at the indicated height when in use and closed when not in use.
- Purchase ENERGY STAR® or EPEAT-certified electronics and appliances.
- Consider installing window films if you experience high temperatures from direct sunlight. Blinds and shades help too.
- Report areas of energy waste to the Sustainability Office. Report to Facilities Services excessively hot (winter) or cold (summer) areas, broken thermostats and radiator valves, and areas where lights are too bright or too many.
~by Brandon Trelstad, OSU Sustainability Coordinator