BUFFALO, N.Y. -- With most students headed off campus after
final exams, the intersession between the fall and spring semesters
provides the perfect opportunity to significantly reduce energy
consumption, according to faculty and staff charged with creating
and implementing the University at Buffalo's sustainability
UB's Environmental Stewardship Committee and staff from
University Facilities say that during winter recess -- which this
year runs from Dec. 22 through Jan. 10 -- concerted efforts at the
institutional, departmental and individual levels can help UB
further reduce its environmental impact and realize economic
"As we go into winter recess, we want to conserve energy as much
as possible, so long as it doesn't impact on programs or services,"
says Albert J. Gilewicz, assistant director of utility operations.
"Our message is, you can save energy without radically altering
what you have to do in this world."
Many staff members, for example, take vacation time the week
between Christmas and New Year's.
"The more information we have as to how much activity there will
be in a specific building, the more we can save," Gilewicz
To that end, UB Facilities have asked all campus departments and
units to take the following steps, which may also benefit
organizations and companies outside of UB:
• Work with IT staff to determine how best to power down
computers over the holiday break and through intersession. Turn off
monitors as well to achieve additional savings.
• Turn off all table lamps and other electrical items
• Identify common equipment, such as computers, copiers and
other electrical items, and turn them off before leaving for
Christmas week and/or intersession.
• Since the use of office refrigerators likely will be
minimal during the break, consider cleaning them out and unplugging
them; the energy savings can be significant.
• Unplug holiday lights and decorations.
Additional energy-saving tips can be found at http://www.buffalo.edu/youhavethepower/yhtp.html.
Such measures add up. Using the EPA Energy Star Calculator for
Desktop Computers, UB's Office of the Chief Information Officer
estimates that UB could save approximately $780,000 annually if all
15,500 institutionally owned computers used power-management
features and approximately 36 percent were turned off at night.
"The key to conservation on campus is participation and
involvement by everyone," says Gilewicz.
He points out that activities individuals cannot accomplish on
their own can be achieved by partnering with University Facilities,
a key player in implementing UB's climate action plan. The
Environmental Stewardship Committee developed the plan to reduce or
offset the university's greenhouse gas emissions in accordance with
President John B. Simpson's signing of the American College and
University Presidents Climate Commitment.
"The key to achieving our climate neutrality goals and saving
money year-round will result from changes in both policy and
culture," says Robert G. Shibley, professor of architecture and
planning and Simpson's senior advisor on "Building UB," the
historic master plan designed to guide the university's growth as
it implements the UB 2020 strategic plan.
Since 2005, numerous projects have resulted in an annual
reduction in electrical consumption on the North Campus of more
than 10 million kilowatt hours.
When it was time to replace side wall and stair-riser lights in
Lippes Concert Hall in Slee Hall, for example, concert manager Phil
Rehard worked with Utility Operations and Facilities Planning and
Design to find an economical, energy-saving solution that still
could deliver the high-quality aesthetics that concert halls need.
The usual alternatives were not appropriate: light-emitting diodes
(LEDs) don't dim all the way, and compact fluorescent lights
flicker when dimmed.
Facilities staff identified a halogena light that provides
100-percent dimming and still saves more than 4,000 kilowatt hours
"What I really appreciate is the sensitive approach that Al
Gilewicz and his staff took in addressing the needs of the concert
hall while still meeting the university's energy-conservation
goals," says Rehard. "
Other departments, such as Athletics, are especially sensitive
to energy-conservation issues.
"At game time, we're energy gluttons," admits Bob Maxwell,
assistant athletics director for facility operations in Alumni
Arena, UB's main athletics facility. "We need to have all our
lights on as required for NCAA Division I and for television
broadcasts. So for non-game days, we developed a policy about when
elevated light levels can and cannot be used."
Coaches have keys that turn on specific lights; if they forget
to turn them off after a practice, the lights, which are connected
to motion sensors, will turn off after 10 minutes.
Motion sensors also have been installed in restrooms and locker
rooms, as well as in the Triple Gym.
One project under development in the Alumni Arena lobby will
replace 20 250-watt metal halide bulbs with more energy-efficient
"We tested the bulbs and everyone liked them," says Maxwell.
"We'll save up to 75 percent of the energy and get the same amount
To find new opportunities for conservation while fully
supporting UB's athletics programs, Maxwell closely tracks use,
calculating scenarios that could save energy. For example, when one
student-athlete is shooting baskets, targeted lighting is far more
Working with coaches and players, a new policy was developed to
ensure that players have plenty of light on the courts where they
are playing without illuminating the entire arena.
New lights in UB Stadium targeted for installation in summer of
2010 will increase candle power and cut energy consumption
significantly; they also focus more light directly into the stadium
and not onto surrounding areas.
"Every time we change something, we make it more efficient and
we make it better," says Maxwell.
Research labs also have benefitted, especially those where
lighting is a special concern, such as in the Department of
Biological Sciences' Dorsheimer Greenhouse. UB Facilities recently
replaced old lights in the greenhouse with 22 compact fluorescent
light fixtures that are more efficient. Those lights, which were
reused after being replaced by another UB department to meet new
regulations, will save nearly 11,000 kilowatt hours per year and
reduce carbon dioxide emissions by a little more than four
University Facilities staff, including those in Operations and
Facilities Planning and Design, worked with faculty and staff in
the Department of Biological Sciences to determine if it was
possible to reuse the fixtures.
"University Facilities doesn't see waste," Gilewicz says. "We
see tremendous opportunity."
The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public
university, a flagship institution in the State University of New
York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's
more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through
more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree
programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of
the Association of American Universities.