Wake Forest University

energy efficiency Archives - Sustainability at Wake Forest

Sustainability at Wake Forest

Posts Tagged ‘energy efficiency’

Halfway to victory? It’s up to You.

Friday, November 9th, 2012

On November 1st we kicked off a residence hall energy conservation competition against Notre Dame — Energy Bowl 2012: Lights Off, Lights Out.  We’re now at the halfway point of the competition, which wraps up on November 14th.

The first half of the competition has been a successful exercise in cross-campus collaboration.  Facilities and Campus Services is the sponsor of Energy Bowl 2012 and Office of Energy Management interns, Allie Gruber and Joey Matt, are planning and managing the competition.  Hall Captains recruited by Residence Life and Housing are serving as Energy Bowl ambassadors in their residence halls, reaching out to their fellow students through posters, e-mails, and word of mouth.  Hall Captains are also assisting the EcoReps, our campus peer-to-peer educators for sustainability, in conducting personalized energy conservation room assessments.

Although we have reason to celebrate this early success in getting everyone involved, one hard cold fact still remains: Wake Forest University is currently losing to Notre Dame.  Luckily, we are not far behind, and our residential students still have plenty of time to reach the energy conservation goal of 6%.  Here are 4 quick tips for students living on-campus to reduce their energy consumption in the residence halls:

  1. If you’re able, take the stairs. Give the elevator a rest until November 14th – and beyond.  You’ll save energy and even get a little work out.
  2. Turn it off (all of it).  When you leave the room, turn off your lights, turn off your power strip (or unplug your electronics), and turn off your heat if you have in-room controls.
  3. Put on a sweater.  If your room feels chilly, try to add more layers before cranking up the temperature, especially in Palmer and Piccolo, where the heating source is electric.
  4. Tell your friends. Update your friends on the status of the competition, and ask them to consciously conserve over the next week.  You can refer them to the Building Dashboard, where they can keep up with the results of the competition in real time.

Look out for a traveling kiosk promoting the competition in residence halls around campus this weekend and early next week.

Lights Off, Lights Out. Let’s Beat the Irish.


Temperature setbacks save green for the holidays

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

ThermostatThe university saved $30,000 in nine days last year during the trial run of the Holiday Setbacks program implemented by Facilities Management and Campus Services. This year’s program, which will run an additional 5 days is expected to save the university even more money in valuable natural gas use reductions.

A directive from Jim Alty, Vice President of Facilities, the Holiday Setbacks program allows the temperatures of 75 percent of the university’s indoor space to float between 55 and 85 degrees with no help from air conditioning or heating during winter break.

The indoor temperatures are allowed to “float,” as the process is called. Energy consuming temperature control systems only kick on if the temperature falls below 55 degrees (to prevent freezing pipes) or above 85 degrees (to avoid frying electronic devices like computers and projector equipment). All of the university’s buildings are included in the plan, but any area can apply for an exemption as some 25 or 30 zoning areas did last year. For example, areas containing sensitive equipment such as the Museum of Anthropology of the two data centers in Worrell and Information Systems remain at their usual temperatures.

Despite these exceptions, the university cut natural gas use during this period by almost 20 percent and overall electricity usage by 10 percent compared to data from the three previous years according to Greg Lischke, Assistant Director of Engineering and Utilities Services. “For a relatively low cost, we are seeking a heck of a payback, I believe,” Lischke said.

These changes are only in effect during period of no occupancy to avoid disturbing any member of the university community. The Holiday setbacks are in addition to regular low occupancy setbacks that use less extreme temperature swings for shorter periods of time. Buildings on campus are generally allowed to float between 60 and 78 degrees during periods of low occupancy such as weekends for many of the locked academic buildings. This general floating policy has been in effect for at least the last five years.

Caitlin Brooks, Communications and Outreach Intern

Lenovo laptops achieve EPEAT gold certification for energy efficiency

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009
The Lenovo T400 is the first Wake issued laptop with an LED backlight.

The Lenovo T400 is the first Wake issued laptop with an LED backlight.

The new ThinkPad T400 laptop computers issued to incoming freshmen and juniors this year meet the highest standard of environmentally sound design according to the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT). EPEAT, a not-for-profit, environmental procurement tool is designed to help purchases evaluate, compare, and select computers and monitors based on their environmental attributes. Products are ranked on 51 criteria in eight categories ranging from material selection to end-of-life management.

There are currently 29 Lenovo Notebook computer models on the market in the U.S. that meet EPEAT certification standards. All of these meet at least silver standard and more than half qualify for the gold standard.

By receiving the gold standard for many of its products, Lenovo demonstrated a commitment to environmental design above and beyond the 23 mandatory criteria. The ThinkPad T400 meets 22 of the 27 optional criteria for certification, excelling in the reduction and elimination of environmentally sensitive materials such as intentionally added cadmium, mercury, and lead. Even the batteries in the notebooks do not contain these poisonous chemicals. In addition, at least 90 percent of components from the T400s can be reused or recycled into new computers. This feature and more contributed to a full compliance with all of the optional criteria for end of life design.

The T400 series is the first ThinkPad issued at the university to feature an LED backlight. Laptop displays constitute a significant portion of the energy consumption of a notebook computer. Light emitting diodes (LEDs) are far more energy efficient than the fluorescent tubes that have been used in all past Wake issued laptops, including the T61, according to Rick Matthews, Associate Provost of Information Systems. Not only does this save energy when the computer is plugged into a power outlet, but it greatly improves the battery life of the T400 model.

Looking for ways you can increase the energy efficiency and battery life of your ThinkPad? The notebooks automatically enter sleep mode if not used for several minutes in order to preserve battery life, but they still use some energy in this mode. If you are looking to extend your battery life even father, shut the computer down if it will not be used for several hours. You can also try lowering your screen’s brightness and turning off your wireless card to save energy when you are plugged into the school network.

Faces of Sustainability: Rick Matthews

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

Matthews“My house is my toy,” Rick Matthews, associate provost of information systems, said. His Faculty Drive home, built in 1984 may well still be the most energy efficient structure on the block over 20 years after its construction. Matthews uses super insulation to make his home comfortable year round.

A former physics professor and chair of the WFU Physics Department from 1998-2007, Matthews wanted to build his home to be as energy efficient as possible to minimize cost and maximize comfort. Matthews considered passive solar heating but rejected the popular method because of the hot Carolina summers. “The problem is that it tends to work all the time and we have some very hot summers. Plus, passive solar uses glass, which is your biggest heat leak,” he said.

The solution? “Simple, inexpensive, highly predictive, super insulation,” he said. Matthews simple designed a home that has thicker walls, wider studs placed farther apart, and twice the amount of insulating material of standard homes. This keeps his home cool in the summer, but warm in the winter.

Other more scientific features of his home include an air-to-air heat exchanger that allows his very tight home to receive fresh air without losing heat. The warm air from the interior passes through a narrow hole where it warms the cool air that is entering the home from outside, minimizing heat loss by as much as 80 percent with a more commonly-used exhaust fan.

Matthews also has a special energy meter from Duke Energy that enables him to take advantage of time-of-day rates for energy. During peak energy hours (7 am-noon in the Winter and 1 pm-7pm in the summer), power plants meet an increased demand for energy by firing up the coal plants to supplement nuclear reactors.

This makes energy not only more expensive, but less environmentally friendly as coal produces CO2 and other pollutants when burned. Because his home is hyper-insulated, he can turn the heat of the house off during peak energy hours and his overall household temperature will decrease by only a few degrees, even if the temperature outside lingers in the teens. This amounts to an overall monthly energy cost of 2.6 cents per square foot of his home.

Matthews frequently preached the benefits of a well-insulated home to his physics classes throughout his teaching tenure at the university.

“So often people think of living sustainably as having to sacrifice something, but this doesn’t feel like a commitment,” Matthews said of his home’s forward-thinking construction. “The only sacrifice we (he and his wife) make is that we don’t wash clothes during peak hours. We don’t even notice if we turn the heat off for five hours.”

“It’s nice to be able to be virtuous without having to sacrifice,” he said.