By Dana Mate
Collegiate Staff Writer
The little things are the first to change. Taking the stairs versus the elevators, not using the handicap doors, and turning off lights when leaving a room are just a few changes that Energy Education has implemented at GRCC in recent years.
Energy Education, a consulting company, specializes in energy saving opportunities by organizing a change in the human behavior aspect of conservation. When the company pitched the idea to the board they promised a money back guarantee if the college didn’t save what would be spent on their fee, and after three years they have more than proven their worth according to the data collected.
Already a trusted investment due to their successful relationships with area high schools, the company realized their next area of focus would be on community colleges and picked GRCC to start. The first community college in the country to venture with the consultation company, the college has received two awards and some national recognition.
As opposed to installing new, water saving, toilet flushers to replace the automatic ones found in most locations, or solar panels, Energy Education focuses on a people based energy conservation program according to the company’s website.
“The little ways we save,” said Dorothy Sadony. “ Turn off lights, shut down computers, monitor our schedules to ensure we’re not wasting (energy) on an empty classroom are actually big steps.” Sadony, the Energy Manager at GRCC, works with the college as a liaison for the company compiling data to track how we can save money by cutting down on unnecessary energy use. Tracking our water use, irrigation, sewer, and natural gas among other things, she educates staff and administration thereby changing their habits.
By making people aware of their habits that waste energy, Sadony with the training of Energy Education has tracked $2.5 million in energy savings since May 2008. “We are comparing to a base from 2007,” said Sadony. “ Yet even with the increase in enrollment our effort has saved more if you take into account the reduction in Carbon Monoxide.”
Not only used on the main, downtown campus, the policies and practices are adopted and applied in every building owned by the college and buildings the college rents for distance learning.
With that mindset, monitoring schedules meticulously and training staff to shut down all equipment when it’s not in use Sadony said, “Imagine you pay the bills. When you leave you don’t want to pay for utilities you aren’t using.”
While no promises were made, the stewardship message on GRCC’s Energy management page available on the website aims to reduce the use of our natural resources, but also taxpayer and tuition dollars. However, with the college saving so much as a result of consumption awareness by administration and staff, it sparks the question how much could be saved if the student body took part in this action?
Things you can do to save
Turn off lights when the room is empty.
Take advantage of natural light! When lights are needed, LED bulbs are the most energy efficient.
Don’t use handicapped doors if you don’t need them. Not only do they waste energy by constantly staying open, but they cause the heating/cooling system to work extra.
Power down computers, TV’s, and all electric equipment when not in use.
Keep classroom doors closed to help maintain the desired temperature.
Unless you need them, don’t use the elevators. Not only should you want to take the healthier route via the stairs, but it uses so much unnecessary energy when people go up one or two floors out of laziness.
Unplug charger chords when not in use. Even when they aren’t in use, they’re using energy.
Don’t run water unless you’re using it, and minimize how many times the toilet is flushing because the automatic flusher.
Here are the numbers
Cost without Energy Management (what GRCC would have spent before instituting energy savings practices) $8,697,608
Actual Cost with Energy Management $7,109872
Cost Avoidance 18.3%
Special savings from rebates through local utilities $830,017
Total Savings $2,417,753
This is an energy reduction impact of 118,876 MMBTU or 12,247 equivalent metric tons of CO2
This equates to :
2,198 passenger cars not being driven for one year or
313,258 tree seedlings growing for ten years
Did you know? A computer with a 17 inch LCD monitor left continuously running will cost approximately $128 a year to power at $0.09 per kWh. Turning a computer off at night so it runs only 8 hours will cost only $43 a year, or a 66% yearly savings.