Student Involvement Reduces Energy Use On Campus
At its annual Summit, participants in the The Alliance To Save Energy (ASE) Green Campus Program announced the environmental strides made at participating colleges and universities. Currently active at 13 California university campuses, the Program was launched with this premise in mind—institutions of higher education spend a significant portion of annual operating budgets on utility services, which diverts funds from valuable programmatic and community building activities.
The Green Campus Program strives to bridge the divide between students and institutional energy costs. Students are working to save energy on campuses by building general campus awareness, incorporating energy conservation and efficiency into course curricula, and implementing projects targeting energy use, student purchasing decisions, and operational changes.
Participating campuses were:
- Humboldt State
- CSU Chico
- UC Berkeley
- UC Merced
- UC Santa Cruz
- UC Santa Barbara
- CSU San Bernardino
- Cal Poly Pomona
- Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
- UC Irvine
- UC San Diego
- San Diego State University
- Stanford University
Additionally, new campuses added in Fall 2009 included three community colleges in the Los Angeles Community College District: West Los Angeles Community College, East Los Angeles Community College, and Los Angeles Southwest Community College.
The Green Campus Program reported its savings for Fall 2009:
- Approx. 1.6 million kWh of energy
- 1 million+ pounds reduced CO2 emissions
- $200,000 savings
- 300,000 gallons of water
- 4,000 therms of gas
Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
When asked which of the program’s many projects was the most successful, ASE’s Green Campus project manager, Renee Lafrenz, found it difficult to pick just one. She did note that the interns from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (winners of the Best Practices in Student Energy Efficiency Award at the recent UC/CSU/CCC Sustainability Conference in California) had done a fantastic job encouraging students in nine residence halls to save energy (resulting in savings of 176,355 kWh (= $20,638) between October 11 and November 20, 2009).
The Program provided residents with “Green Tips” encouraging energy saving behaviors, such as washing only full loads of laundry and switching light bulbs to CLFs. Every week gas, electric, and water savings data were updated and posted on sandwich board displays, the Program website, and sent via email directly to residents. Community advisors also went door to door to inform residents to inform them of their building’s current standing in the competition to reduce usage (compared to a baseline).
Stanford University Green Campus saved that school 425,143 kWh in 2009 (the equivalent of $68,020, or 254,749 pounds of CO2 averted). Their projects included a laundry energy efficiency initiative; laboratory fume hood energy savings campaign; exterior LED lighting pilot; and a pilot of providing residents with smart energy strips. Based on the success of their smart energy strip pilot, Stanford plans to provide all incoming freshman in fall 2010 with these devices.
Stadium Lighting Retrofit at Humboldt
In November 2009, contractors at Humboldt State University initiated a major lighting retrofit of their school’s iconic Depression-era stadium. The project was conceived in 2007 by then-advisor Richard Engel as a way to decrease the electrical consumption and light pollution of the bowl. In spring of 2009, the Humboldt Energy Independence Fund (HEIF), a university funding program, awarded $75,000 to Green Campus to fund the project. Completion is pending.
Says Lafrenz, “The work we do with Green Campus saves both energy and money in a time when colleges and universities need it most. We’re also training students on energy efficiency in order to meet the need for knowledgeable individuals to fill the emerging green job sector.”