The hike in fuel prices that’s drawn national attention to California and to proposed drilling for fossil fuels in Alaska and on Colorado public lands also affects Colorado State University.
A jump of more than $3.5 million in energy costs this year has hurt the university budget, and faculty, students and staff are being asked to pitch in by saving energy where possible and, in the process, helping the environment.
"Lower building temperatures slightly by one to two degrees is only an issue for the upcoming heating season, which runs from November through March," said Ron Baker, director of facilities management. "We anticipate lower fuel costs in the future, and we plan to make up the budget deficit, but to do this we’ll need cooperation and support."
The most widespread action is likely to draw wide attention but otherwise be little noticed, Baker said.
"We’ll be lowering temperatures slightly in campus buildings," he said. "We will keep the temperature range in the comfort zone. We understand that it could affect some individuals, but it’s not our intent at all to create problems for campus residents and employees.
"What we hope people will do if they feel chilly, whether they’re students living in dorms or faculty working late at night, is to add an extra layer – a sweater or fleece, for example – and keep on studying. This is a one-year effort, and the more cooperation we get, the easier it will be to get that money back into academic programs." Supervisors are being asked to work with their staff to encourage warmer dress during the winter time.
"Reducing utility costs will enable students to reduce, in turn, the upward pressures on on-campus housing costs," said James Dolak, director of housing. "What that does, besides helping us create a ‘sustainable’ campus, is free up funds for maintenance improvements that really benefit students and add to their comfort."
It’s not just a budget matter, Baker said. Facilities Management has implemented conservation measures, winning notice from the federal government, since the early 1980s. A program that involves continuing conservation measures will not only save money but will help the environment. And saving energy of any kind will contribute to an overall lessening in utilities costs, for example, electricity.
"With an estimated 10,000 computers on campus, big energy savings are possible," said Patrick Burns, director of Academic Computing and Network Services. "For example, during normal working hours, if every computer operator turned off a monitor that wouldn’t be used for 20 minutes and shut the entire system off if it wasn’t need for two hours, just for that computer alone we’d realize an annual energy savings of approximately 588 kilowatt hours. This in no way harms the computer or the life of the equipment."
"Put that another way. If everyone operating a computer on campus adopted our ACNS guidelines, we’d save approximately $95,000 annually." ACNS soon will be providing computer users with useful, easy tips to save energy.
Other suggestions for saving energy include:
- Lowering vent-hood fronts to the specified operating level, which reduces heat loss and helps protect hood users by keeping air velocity higher.
- Turning off lights in empty classrooms, dorm rooms and labs in those areas without the automatic switches that have been installed in many areas.
- Taking shorter showers in dorms and reducing water use when convenient, especially hot water.
"We will welcome suggestions from anyone in the campus community regarding other ways to save energy," Baker said. He noted that mechanical systems, especially heating-cooling systems, don’t always respond appropriately. Facilities management crews "will be as aggressive as possible about responding to complaints of an overheated room, for example," he said.
Residence hall comments should be directed to 491-7171.
Suggestions and comments for other campus buildings should be directed to Facilities Management’s central dispatching number, 491-0077. For further information, call Carol Dollard at 491-0151.