On Campus, Intersession is Prime Time to Conserve Energy

Release Date: December 4, 2009 This content is archived.


Related Multimedia

From left: Albert Gilewicz and Robert Theurer of University Facilities with Phil Rehard, concert manager of Lippes Concert Hall, where recently installed stair riser and sidewall lighting delivers high-quality aesthetics while saving energy.

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 policies.

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 benefits.

"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 says.

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 a year.

"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 bulbs.

"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 of light."

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 efficient.

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 tons.

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.

Media Contact Information

Ellen Goldbaum
News Content Manager
Tel: 716-645-4605