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October 7, 2002

Emory College project aims for 10% energy cut

By Michael Terrazas

In a move that could both reduce the University’s energy consumption and cut costs, Emory College has launched an Energy Conservation Project aimed to keep employees conscious of the little things that together could produce big results.

Spearheaded by the Ad Hoc Committee on Environmental Stewardship, the project focuses on five areas of energy usage that, with a little conscientiousness, could be signficantly reduced. They include:

• Turning off computers on nights and weekends.

• Reducing computer monitor energy use through either “sleep mode” features or simply turning them off when not in use for periods longer than 10 minutes.

• Turning off lights in classrooms, offices, lounges, labs, etc.

• Actively seeking other opportunities for conservation, such as reducing elevator/automatic door opener use; setting photocopiers to sleep mode; purchasing Energy Star-rated appliances; turning off fume hoods, fans and other lab equipment when not necessary; and examining the necessity of high-consumption appliances such as vending machines.

• Working to optimize the efficiency of heating and/or air conditioning units.

Ad Hoc member Peggy Barlett, professor of anthropology, said the idea for the project grew out of the January 2001 Reconciliation Symposium, specifically the “Nurturing a Green University” workshop. But the committee realized that implementing a Universitywide program could take considerable time.

“Maybe we were trying to be too ambitious,” Barlett said. “Maybe if we just focused on the college, and we just focused on faculty and staff, and we just focused on the kinds of innovations that don’t cost money—maybe we could get something started.”

And they did; the response so far, Barlett said, has been very encouraging, as both faculty and staff embrace an idea that accomplishes two goals: saving money in a time of fiscal restraint, and helping Emory become a more environmentally sustainable institution. Alan Cattier, director of academic technology for the Information Technology Division, and Carole Meyers, director of academic computing for the college, helped craft the specific recommendations.

Interim Dean Bobby Paul also said the project has been greeted even more positively than he expected.

“Environmental awareness is widepread and growing on campus,” Paul said. “Emory strives to be both self aware and also responsible as a community partner, and environmental issues—so important in determining our quality of life—are ones in which our individual and collective behavior can have a direct impact and make a difference.”

Paul cited Facilities Management (FM) as one of the University’s most environmentally responsible divisions; the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified Whitehead Building and Math and Science Center have garnered national recognition for Emory’s “green building” program.

So it is appropriate that someone from FM will play a key role in the college project; energy engineer Keith Curtis, whose job is to find ways to maximize energy efficiency in all University facilities, will consult and design methods to measure the project’s success. Bob Has-call, senior vice president for FM, and Debbie Moyers, director of resource planning, also have been instrumental in launching the project.

The goal is for Emory College to reduce energy consumption by 10 percent, and judging from the objectives and successes of other schools, Emory’s is an eminently attainable goal; the Ad Hoc Committee’s proposal claims the University of Manitoba in Canada retrofit its facilities and reduced consumption by a whopping 24 percent, for an annual savings of $1.8 million (Canadian). In the United States, Harvard has launched a program comparable to Emory’s, as have Tulane, the University of Buffalo (N.Y.), Iowa State University and the California State University System.

“Atlanta’s growing air pollution and other environemntal problems are obvious to all,” Paul said. “As an institution dedicated to knowledge and education, it is incumbent on us to be leaders in showing the community at large the dangers—as well as the ways to improve the situation.”