Green is Gold: Colorado State University Promotes Energy, Water Conservation

October is energy awareness month and time for Colorado State University’s Green is Gold energy conservation campaign. As the nation’s energy consumption reaches all-time highs, Colorado State is enhancing a strong commitment to energy conservation by implementing low-cost energy and water restriction projects as well as encouraging faculty, students and staff to pitch in by saving energy wherever possible.

Colorado State’s Green and Gold campaign, now in its third year, is a campuswide energy-saving program designed to reduce energy and water consumption. The campaign focuses on both mandated and voluntary measures to reduce energy and water use.

"Colorado State University is committed to being a responsible consumer of energy and water resources while maintaining the building occupants’ comfort, education and research efforts," said Brian Chase, director of Facilities Management. "At this time, energy and water conservation is especially important to Colorado State due to dramatic budget cuts. Each dollar of avoided utility expense is a dollar used elsewhere at the university."

During the first quarter of fall 2002, Colorado State completed several low-cost projects that conserve energy and reduce water consumption. Many of these improvements were made to the university’s District Heating Plant, which decreased electric and water use by a minimum of 10 percent, saved millions of gallons of water and significantly reduced electric consumption.  

Recent water conservation efforts include Housing and Food Services retrofitting projects at eight residence halls for equipment cooling machines that will save an estimated 10 million gallons of water annually. Additionally, Colorado State complied with the city’s water supply shortage plan restrictions, although the university was not required to do so because it uses untreated water for irrigation.  

By complying with the city’s restrictions, irrigation water was reduced by roughly 25 percent by going to a two-day-a-week watering schedule from three days per week. Some of the excess irrigation water was leased to the Poudre School District. Colorado State also leased to the city of Fort Collins roughly 368.4 million gallons of excess domestic water that was available because of the university’s conservation efforts.

Additional conservation opportunities at Colorado State will be implemented during fall 2004 including lighting upgrades and Web-based utility meters that monitor real-time electrical consumption in Braiden and Westfall Halls. Colorado State also is evaluating a performance contract for comprehensive energy and water conservation projects. Costs for construction and implementation would be covered by utility cost savings.

Colorado State is also asking faculty and staff to aid in energy and water conservation and has requested that the on-campus community take personal measures to help decrease energy consumption.  

Following are suggested tips for members of the on-campus community.


–     If you feel cool, add an extra layer of clothing rather than using a space heater in residence hall rooms, offices and labs.  

–     If your environment is extremely warm or cold, call 491-0077: equipment may be out of adjustment.

–     Turn off any lights or electrical equipment (i.e., stereos, radios, computers) when not in use.

–     Power down computers to their resting state. Most modern computers use almost no energy when not in use. However, no energy is saved in "screen saver" mode.

–     Use the stairs. Get your blood pumping and save energy at the same time!

On-campus housing:

–     Try cutting a minute off your shower. If every student on campus shortened their shower by one minute, the university could save roughly 6.8 million gallons annually, or enough water to serve 31 families of four for an entire year. Judicious use of all water should be considered at all times.

–     If your room is too hot, talk to your resident advisor and/or call 491-7171. Opening a window wastes heated air to the outside.  

In classrooms and offices:

–     Report extremes of temperature by calling 491-0077, but be prepared for a warm or cool environment by layering clothes.  

–     Turn off teaching equipment (overhead projectors, computers, etc.) when not in use.

–     Turn off the lights if you are the last one out of an empty classroom or office.

–     Do not study in a classroom by yourself. Study in areas with others to maximize lighting efficiency.

In labs:

–     If equipment is not required, turn it off.

–     Be judicious with water use.

–     Remember that vent hoods do waste heated air to the outside but are there for your protection. If you are using the hood, lower the sash to the proper position: you will minimize heat loss and give yourself maximum protection. When finished working at a fume hood, lower the sash to the minimum opening position.

–     If you are not using lights, turn them off; if you are working in part of your facility and switches permit, turn off the lights in the empty portion of the lab.

–     Switch unused computing equipment into "sleep mode" if it does not do so automatically.

Following are suggested tips for everyone:

Residence hall comments should be directed to 491-7171. Suggestions and comments for other campus buildings should be directed to Facilities Management at 491-0077.