Posted: September 8, 2014
Here at Western, electricity consumption is the largest contributor to our utility bill. In 2013, electricity cost us over $16 million, which made up approximately 73% of our $23 million bill! All of this consumption also hinders Western on its path of sustainability. Western strives to embed sustainability into every facet of daily life for its staff, students and faculty and has committed to reducing its impact on the environment. On the operations end, we are doing our best to reduce this consumption with several initiatives. These include:
1) Replacing fluorescent T12 lamps with more energy efficient T8 lamps. These bulbs use 30% less energy. Reducing energy consumption reduces the amount of pollution from the burning of fossil fuels, and therefore can help reduce the effects of climate change. It is important to mitigate climate change because it can lead to storms, food shortages, flooding, etc., all of which can harm people and wildlife.
2) Installing lighting control systems. These systems use motion sensors to detect when a room is occupied, and automatically switch the lights off when a room has been empty for a certain period of time.
3) Building upgrades. All new building constructions and renovations on campus are being designed to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver standards whenever possible. LEED is an initiative which gives credits for certain environmental characteristics of a building. Many of these characteristics help to reduce a building’s energy consumption. Some qualities of a LEED certified building may include better insulation to reduce the amount of necessary heating and cooling, designing buildings to allow for more natural light to reduce the number of lights that need to be turned on, and even installing renewable energy systems on or around the building. For example, the Claudette Mackay-Lassonde Pavilion on campus has two solar panels and a wind turbine on its roof.
The initiatives taken by Western’s staff to reduce the university’s electrical demand are wonderful, but it will take more than just Western’s staff to significantly reduce our consumption on campus! There are many things that everyone can do to help reduce the University’s electrical load. By utilizing the following tips, you will help make campus a greener, more sustainable place to work, study and live.
1) Be sure to switch off the lights in rooms if you are the last one to leave. This can reduce electricity consumption by up to 15%!
2) If you have control over the temperature of a thermostat, first make sure you have adjusted what you are wearing to deal with the temperature. If you still find that you are too hot or cold after doing this, adjust the thermostat up or down by one degree at a time.
3) Don’t pump the heat or air conditioning while windows are open. Many people do this, claiming they “enjoy the fresh air.” However, every building must legally circulate fresh air coming from outdoors into buildings. So you are always getting some fresh air even when inside!
4) Set your computer or laptop screen’s electricity usage to “power saver” or “energy saver” by clicking on the battery or power outlet icon. This allows the screen to “go to sleep” more often when you are inactive, and saves electricity. Please note that setting your computer to activate a screen saver after a period of inactivity does not usually help save energy. In fact, elaborate screen savers can consume more energy than if your computer were to simply remain in its active state.
Everyone can do their part to help Western reduce its environmental footprint! Be mindful of the energy you use and help your campus community achieve its sustainability goals. These tips are wonderful to adopt at home too, so that you can achieve a sustainable lifestyle no matter where you are!