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Inside Iowa State
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December 14, 2001

Officials encourage low staffing over holiday
to save energy

by Diana Pounds
To save energy and operation costs over the winter holiday break, ISU administrators are encouraging minimum or no staffing in university offices that don't necessarily have to be open.

In a Dec. 4 e-mail to DEOs, deans and other supervisors, vice president for business and finance Warren Madden encouraged unit heads to be liberal in allowing employees to take time off over the holiday period (which runs from after commencement Saturday, Dec. 22, through New Year's Day, Jan. 1).

Options: Vacation, leave without pay, comp time
"Employees are certainly allowed to work if they choose," Madden said. "But we encourage department and unit leaders to be liberal in allowing employees to take vacation, leave without pay, or compensatory time over the holidays."

Madden said that university officials are waiving the requirement that employees be in "pay status" both the day before and after a holiday in order to receive pay for the holiday. "This one-time exception to the requirement would allow a staff member to be on leave without pay before and after the Dec. 24-25 and Jan. 1 holidays and still be paid for the holidays."

Madden said it's an opportunity to permit staff members who want to use voluntary leave options to do so "during a period when many campus activities are at a low activity level."

Some offices may be closed
Depending on the activity, Madden added it is permissible for supervisors to close offices, particularly small offices -- if everyone in a unit wishes to take vacation and if the office supervisor and dean agrees that the unit can be closed or phone messages forwarded to another staffed location.

If a unit closes, the unit head should provide the dean or vice president with information on who to contact in an emergency. Phone forwarding, phone messages, office signs and even Web sites also should be used to let clients know where to go for emergency assistance.

Alert facilities about unoccupied areas; turn down thermostats
If your unit or a portion of your building can be shut down for part of the holiday period, supervisors should let facilities staff know. (Send an e-mail to:

Facilities staff will cut back on energy use in unoccupied areas; they also will inform the department of public safety which areas of campus will be largely unoccupied.

Individuals also can help save energy over the holiday by turning office thermostats down from 68 to 60 degrees (if areas will be unoccupied) and by making sure that all nonessential items (such as computers, monitors, printers, fax machines and copy machines) are shut off when they leave for break.

Essential units will remain open
Some units can't be closed because they are vital to the university's daily operations. These include, for example, units involving security, the power plant, animal care, snow removal and ongoing research projects.

Up to $5,000 daily savings sought
On a typical winter weekend, when most offices are closed, Iowa State saves $4,000 to $5,000 per day in energy costs (as compared to a typical weekday). If the university can get close to those savings over winter break, it will help considerably in the goal to save $1.5 million in energy costs this fiscal year, Madden said.

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Published by: University Relations,
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