East Carolina University will go green again this winter break in a utilities setback plan that saved the university more than $50,000 last year.
The university will shut down entirely beginning Dec. 22 as part of a holiday plan to allow employees a longer break and help reduce utility expenditures and energy use.
According to University Energy Engineer and Sustainability Committee Chairman Brian Pipkin, the University will use an automatic control system to lower the temperature control points down to around 60 degrees in major campus buildings. All lights and electric hot water heaters will be shut off as well.
"This year, the shutdown will last 12 days and we hope to capture even more buildings." Pipkin said. "We want (the setback plan) to be as advantageous as possible."
The shutdown will end on Jan. 2, when faculty and staff return to work. Classrooms that can be controlled will stay in set back mode longer.
Employees who have individual spaces and offices are asked to participate in the shutdown as well. Pipkin said individuals should turn off and unplug all non-essential electronics and close all exterior doors and windows.
Students who live in off campus apartments or houses can also participate in the even and save on utilities while they are away by setting back thermostats and turning off water heaters.
"Anything with a remote can be turned off and unplugged," Pipkin said. "Even when electronics are turned off, they use power when plugged in."
ECU Participates in Biodiesel 4 Pitt County Schools Fundraiser
Have you heard about the Biodiesel 4 Schools Fundraiser that ECU is involved with? “— Deep in the shadowy recesses of our kitchen cabinets where the wild things live — cockroaches mostly — usually sits a can of used cooking oil left over after meals have been prepared. Until recently, the murky stuff had little value — especially for area restaurants that routinely use a lot of oil and have to figure out how to get rid of it.
Now, through a partnership between Pitt County Schools and a Greensboro-based recycling company, the used cooking oil may benefit area students and the environment as well.
Following approval by the Pitt County Board of Education earlier this year, Pitt County Schools teamed up with Green Circle North Carolina to inaugurate the Biodiesel 4 Schools program — believed to be the first of its kind in the state.
Michael Cowin, Pitt County Schools' assistant superintendent of financial operations, has shepherded the new program as a way to help offset about $7 million in state budget cuts to Pitt County schools over the past three years. Add to that more than $800,000 in revenue reductions from Pitt County for just this fiscal year and the school system’s plight gains sharper focus.
To help offset the reduced funding, the school system has eliminated 60 classroom teacher positions and reduced the hours for teacher assistants.
And though the estimated annual revenue for the Biodiesel 4 Schools program — about $100,000 — pales against the budget losses, Cowin nevertheless touts the program’s potential benefits. He estimates the money could fund a couple of teacher positions, possibly three teacher-assistants and/or pay for classroom supplies.
Here's how the program works: Since May 15, more than 150 Pitt County restaurants have agreed to donate or sell for a small fee the used cooking oil they generate. Green Circle regularly picks up the oil and sells it to the Wilson Biodiesel Plant where it’s converted to biodiesel fuel. Biodiesel is a vegetable- or animal-fat-based diesel fuel that is believed to be cleaner than petroleum-based fuels.
The proceeds of the sale are split 50/50 by Pitt County Schools and Green Circle. Pitt County Schools’ portion of the money is then used to benefit schools and students.
“We want to put as much of our resources back into the classrooms as possible, and we’re looking at all our options,” Cowin said.
That’s the immediate goal, but as Cowin looks down the road he can see the county’s school buses running on a mixture of biodiesel fuel and regular diesel. Though he can’t estimate when that goal will be reached, the school district plans to use a blend of biodiesel fuel in its activity buses this year.”
By PAUL DUNN
Staff Writer for The Times-Leader, The Farmville Enterprise and The Standard Laconic
ECU joined the fundraiser in August of this year and has thus far donated 10 barrels of used cooking oil. All of ECU’s Dining facilities donate to the fundraiser including Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. To give you a clearer picture, there are 50 gallons to 1 barrel of oil. One barrel of oil equals an estimate of$100. The oil is sold to Wilson Biodiesel Plant in North Carolina, but Dean Price, Green Circle Owner, said that “the vision is for Pitt County to be able to recycle 100 of the cooking oil” by having its own Biodiesel Plant making Pitt County independent and sustainable.
Pitt county has a total of 36 schools that can benefit from the fundraiser and has approximately 350 restaurants, of which 150 restaurants are involved with the fundraiser. The restaurants involved display decals signifying their participation in the Biodiesel 4 Schools Fundraiser. Biodiesel 4 Schools is a great fundraiser for a couple of reasons. It recycles the cooking oil waste using it as biodiesel, which is believed to be cleaner. Also, the restaurants don’t have to pay to get rid of the waste, the Pitt County Schools benefit, and ultimately the children benefit from the efforts.
By: Kate Ashton
Communication Subcommittee Chair- Sustainability Committee