ECU HVAC technician Paul Jackson reviews one of two computers used to shut down buildings for the green holiday shutdown. He was working in the steam plant near the Brody Building on the Health Sciences campus. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)
EVER GREEN ECU to shut down operations over winter break
For the third year, East Carolina University will go green again during the winter break using a utilities setback plan that saved the university more than $75,000 last year.
The university will shut down at regular close of business Dec. 20 as part of a plan to allow employees a longer break and to help reduce utility expenditures and energy use. Buildings will reopen Jan. 2, when employees return to work.
Like last year, the holiday shutdown will last 12 days. During that time, facilities services will use an automatic control system to lower the temperature to around 60 degrees in most campus buildings. Some residence halls will be open over the break and modifications will be made at the Brody School of Medicine to accommodate clinic schedules.
ECU saved 506 metric tons of carbon dioxide that equated to $75,460 in cost avoidance during the 2012 holiday break, according to Griff Avin, chief sustainability officer at ECU and director of facilities services for the university's health sciences campus.
"We continue to make improvements in our energy usage, but we finished the year at 17 percent of our total reduction target of 30 percent," Avin said. A law ratified in 2008 mandated that all state agencies by 2015 reduce their energy consumption by 30 percent from their 2002-03 usage level.
Avin said because ECU had already begun energy reduction measures on campus, their 2002-03 level was not as high as it would have been in previous years. But that earlier work doesn't count, "wherever you were for that year, that's your starting point," he said.
ECU's 17 percent reduction is good, Avin said, but more work is needed. "We're still the third highest UNC institution when you look at our energy use per gross square foot," he said.
For the university to meet its energy reduction goal by 2015, ECU still has to reduce the equivalent of the amount of electricity used on the core Health Sciences campus for an entire year, Avin said.
Across North Carolina, state agencies had an overall reduction of 26 percent through last year, which equates to a cost avoidance of approximately $598 million for energy, he said.
Avin encouraged employees to make sure lights not needed for building security during the break are turned off and printers and other non-essential electronics are unplugged when they leave for the break.
"We need everybody's help as they are leaving for the break to cut off everything that they can. It's a great opportunity to reduce our energy consumption as much as possible during those 12 days," Avin said.