Energy-efficient changes planned for campus

The UTM Physical Plant staff will soon change the lighting in Gooch Hall to energy-efficient LED bulbs as part of a cost-cutting utilities reduction plan.

The installation will also feature a lighting control system which controls light functions during times of non-use.

According to physical plant coordinator Tim Nipp, Gooch was specifically chosen for its older lighting. Eventually, all buildings on campus will transition to more energy efficient lighting.

“The campus has always worked hard to provide an effort for energy efficiency, and to reduce wasteful spending on all of our utilities,” Nipp said.

These components are part of an energy and sustainability plan that began in November of 2016 to reduce utility costs by 10 to 20 percent. The plan is exclusively aimed toward the operation of academic and administration buildings, and includes measures to control energy use during times of sparse attendance.

“At the time, we were looking to reduce expenses because of the enrollment reduction, and that was one of the ways that we could cut costs,” said Petra McPhearson, Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration.

Among these measures are temperature controls, thermostat settings and the scheduling of night and summer classes.

Temperature settings are based on industry standards for saving money correlated to energy costs. All building temperatures are set to 68 degrees in the winter and 75 degrees during the summer.  Thermostats not part of the energy management system are monitored by the Physical Plant.

Heating and cooling systems are also regulated and adjusted based on events. These can include ceremonies, dinners and other gatherings with a large audience. Additionally, this can include other temperature sensitive events such as art shows, because of temperature-sensitive art pieces.

This will also be adjusted during times that students, faculty and staff are not present. For example, members of security cut out more lights in the buildings around campus after hours.  This is true for the weekends and holidays as well.

Additionally, deans and department chairs have been requested to compensate for this by scheduling night and summer classes close to one another.

“We’re just asking everybody to participate in saving energy,” McPhearson said. “ … We’re not asking people to do without, we’re just asking that we all be mindful and conserve.”

A subcommittee of the Sustainable Financial Model Committee has worked with the building managers and department chairs to track progress. The committee consists of 13 UTM faculty and staff members.

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