Top 5 Ways to Save Energy on Campus

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

the word green spelled with sparklers, light, flash

When I was an undergraduate student at uOttawa I was really excited when the government of Canada launched the doomed 1 Tonne Challenge program. The program had only good intentions but it completely and utterly failed to be inclusive. As a student there were a bunch of things that were being suggested by the program that I just couldn't do. Buy an efficient furnace or car, insulate my house, purchase offsets?!?!? I didn't own a home, couldn't afford a car, and what the hell was an offset?

Since then I have always had a hate on for things marketed to students that students have no control over. If I told you to turn down the heat in your classroom, would you even be able to do it? So here is a list of 5 actual things that you can do on campus to reduce the campuses environmental footprint.

  1. Don't use the elevator when you don't have to 
    I never understood why people didn't get this but elevators suck their fair share of energy. On a floor by floor basis, a typical elevator uses 2.5 Watt/hours (which is enough energy to half charge your smart phone). To take an elevator to the top of the Desmarais building and back down costs a little over 1 cent per person ($0.0116). Multiply that by multiple elevators and hundreds of trips a day over the course of the year... the energy adds up.

    Now I am not suggesting that you never use the elevator (especially when going twelve floors) but do try to take the stairs if you are just going up or down one floor. (Energy calculation based on the Otis Elevator Energy Use Calculator and an energy cost of $0.10 per kilowatt hour)
  2. Don't use the Door Assist Button if you don't have to
    This is basically the same argument as above. Again, the amount of power used by one individual is nominal, but multiplied a million times over and we've got a problem.
  3. Change your light bulb
    This is seriously the easiest thing you can do if you live in Rez. Housing Services uses energy efficient light bulbs but if you bring your own lamp, please for the love of God use a compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL). You will help eliminate a little over 10 kg a month worth of CO2. (Emissions calculations follow Environment Canada's g CO2 / kWh for 2010)

    *By the way, if you bring your old CFL to the front desk, they will recycle it for you.
  4. Turn off your computer at night
    "But my computer goes into sleep mode so I am not using any energy". Yeah, that's completely false. When your computer is in sleep mode the energy use does go down but it still exists. A computer in sleep mode can get down to just under 15 watts of energy use, which is still about the amount of energy your light bulb uses. So technically it is like leaving a light on all night for no reason. I know it sucks to have to wait 75 seconds for your computer to boot up in the morning but come on, really... it is a small price to pay. (information gathered from
  5. Use a Power Bar and turn it off
    A tremendous amount of energy is lost to phantom loads. This occurs when you think your electronics are turned off but they continue to draw energy. You know... like when you turn off your stereo but for some reason there is a light that goes on to tell you that it is turned off. Phantom loads can account for up to 25% of your energy use.

    The simplest way to take care of this it to put your electronics on a power bar and turn that power bar off when you are not using those electronics. It is super easy to do and works at the push of a button.

This is by no  means an extensive list but it is a start. I would love to hear your ideas about saving energy on campus so please send them along.

~jon - campus sustainability manager
photo credit - jonathan rausseo

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