Winter break shutdown charts energy savings

For a second year in a row, the College closed down as many of its operations as possible over winter break. The closure was the result of a decision made in winter 2008 in an effort to cut down on energy and heating use as well as to save money.

According to Stephanie Boyd, director of the Zilkha Center, between Dec. 23 and Jan. 2 this winter, the College saved $60,000; 436,000 kilowatt hours of electricity; 1000 MMBTUs of heating and 260 metric tons of emissions. “We saved more energy in 2009- 10 than in 2008-09, but we saved less money,” Boyd said. “This was largely due to lower energy costs in the central heating plant this year.”

The greatest energy savings were seen in the dorms. Energy usage in dorm buildings over break represented an average decrease of 51 percent from the December baseline. In comparison, all other buildings were down 44 percent from the baseline. Buildings that normally use the most heating and energy – Morley, Jesup, the ’62 Center for Theatre and Dance, Paresky and Sawyer – varied across a spectrum of energy savings. Their energy usages were down 20, 14, 58, 46 and 78 percent, respectively.

Greater cut-downs in heating usage, energy usage and emissions during this past winter closing can be attributed to the changes made in procedures from 2008-09. In Boyd’s opinion, the key to saving more energy was better communication. A committee was established earlier in the year in order to notify students and staff. Information was made easily available through a Web site, which provided details about the closing.

According to Boyd, the efforts of the Zilkha Center throughout the year may also have contributed to the increase in energy savings. “We have been working on energy conservation projects in various buildings – improving lighting, building controls, etc. – and these programs may have helped,” she said.

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