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May 18, 2001

Energy conservation

Campus building audits begin later this month

by Debra Gibson
By month's end, ISU's "volt-busters" will be headed your way in the university's campus-wide effort to conserve energy and save $1.5 million.

According to David Miller, ISU's utilities director, the campus building visits will result in facility evaluations and recommendations for energy savings. Though Miller and his staff have been collecting data and establishing benchmarks the past several weeks, he said one conservation strategy for all won't be sufficient.

"Every building on campus is different," Miller explained, "based on its age, the equipment inside and the way we use it. Although there are principles we can apply to all, every single building will have its own energy conservation plan."

Miller estimates it will take most of the summer for him and his staff to analyze the energy needs of the more than 100 general university buildings. These will include the College of Veterinary Medicine and the Veterinary Medical Research Institute, but not residence halls, facilities controlled by the athletic department, buildings leased by the Ames Laboratory and USDA facilities like the National Soil Tilth Laboratory. However, those entities will be provided with energy conservation information as well, Miller said.

Building temperatures will be regulated, keeping the summer thermostat at 78 degrees. Cooling systems will be turned up during "off hours," except in the approximately 14 buildings whose operating hours will be extended beyond 5 p.m. Those facilities, Miller said, cater primarily to students taking night classes or working in computer labs. Other buildings whose operating hours won't be affected include the Parks library and the Lied Center. Miller is working with ISU schedulers now to try to ensure that "no one will have to go more than one or two buildings away for nighttime activity."

In early June, Miller also hopes to launch an extensive Web site dedicated to energy conservation facts and tips.

"The only way we can see some real savings is if we provide enough good information to our consumers," he said. "But we don't view ourselves as the energy police. This energy conservation goal was established for all of Iowa State, not just one element. Hopefully, the entire university will pull together and make some good decisions.

"Historically, ISU has maintained low utility costs," Miller said, "and we're hoping that our current budget situation interests people in becoming greener all the time."

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Published by: University Relations,
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