Surprise Energy Savings of $11,000 in One Day Prompts UB to Tell Students, Faculty and Staff to 'Turn It Off'

Potential annual savings could exceed $1 million

Release Date: September 29, 2004 This content is archived.


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UB has launched the "You Have the Power" energy conservation campaign in an effort to get employees to do just that.

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- One hot summer's day in 2003, a couple of days after the big blackout, the University at Buffalo was quick to respond to an emergency request from the regional grid to cut back its electricity use.

Maintenance personnel took steps to turn off equipment and lights that were not absolutely necessary.

When the university got the bill, it found that those steps, taken in a single day, had saved UB a lot of money: $11,157.36 to be exact. UB's electricity provider confirmed the savings.

"Any savings we can realize is positive," said Kevin Seitz, UB vice president for university services. "But we were surprised at the magnitude of these savings."

That's money that can be used to support the university's academic and academic-support plans, he explained.

Furthermore, the cutback in use happened to occur over a weekend. UB facilities staff point out that had it occurred during regular business hours, the savings would have even been greater.

"The question for us then became, how can we make it more practical for employees to save energy on a day-to-day basis, not by doing anything drastic, just by paying attention to certain things?" said Seitz.

Now the university, through its UB Green Office, has launched the "You Have the Power" energy conservation campaign in an effort to get employees to do just that.

Symbolized by a simple light switch turned to the OFF position, the campaign provides numerous easy tips on how every individual at UB can "turn it off."

Using posters, lobby signs that describe each building's energy use, a comprehensive Web site and brochures sent last week to UB's 5,000-plus employees, the campaign is aimed at educating faculty, staff and students about how easy it is to save energy at UB.

Suggestions in campaign materials run the gamut from enabling "sleep modes" on computers, eliminating decorative table lamps, which use more energy than fluorescent lights, buying the most energy-efficient equipment and tips for fume hood operation in university labs.

In a section entitled "Green Partners," the Web site features projects voluntarily undertaken by schools and departments on campus, ranging from using 100 percent post-consumer content recycled paper and improved recycling of chemicals in laboratories to exploring the use of energy-efficient vending machines on campus.

"UB is already an energy-conscious campus but we all know we can do better," said Walter Simpson, UB energy officer and director of the UB Green Office.

"The 'You Have the Power' campaign is designed to further encourage all members of the university community to pitch in and do their part," he explained. "There are so many opportunities: Just enabling the 'sleep' modes' on all campus computers or turning off monitors when people go to meetings could literally save thousands of dollars a year.

"Collectively, the UB community does have the power to save over a million dollars a year in energy costs," Simpson continued. "What we learned from that 'experiment,' was that opportunities for more energy savings always are there. And every dollar of energy we save equates to less air pollution and other environmental benefits. This is just one way UB can serve the wider community by setting the example of fiscal responsibility while being a good environmental citizen."

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