December 12, 2003
ISU halfway to energy goal
by Linda Charles
As the midpoint of the fiscal year approaches, energy savings on campus
total more than $900,000 -- over half the $1.5 million annual goal.
That goal gets harder to reach as new buildings are opened and more requests
for exemptions from temperature guidelines are granted, said Clark Thompson,
engineer with facilities planning and management.
The baseline for energy savings doesn't change when new buildings are
opened, Thompson said. That means, for example, as the new Gerdin Business
Building is occupied, additional energy savings will need to be found to
compensate for the energy used in the building.
On the plus side, new buildings are constructed with energy savings in mind,
he said. For example, they have sensors that not only turn off lights when
people leave a room, but also lower the temperature until the room is
More people are requesting exemptions from the guidelines that call for
thermostats to be set at 68 degrees in the winter and 78 in the summer,
"As the exemptions continue to grow, it becomes a challenge for the
university to meet the $1.5 million goal," he said.
Now in the third year of the program, facilities staff monitor 52 buildings
on campus for energy use. Energy savings in those buildings have increased
incrementally as staff have identified what equipment and air handlers can
be turned off at times and how the space is used. Most savings occur outside
the normal workday, Thompson said.
For example, if a classroom is used at night, facilities staff try to
identify the specific equipment need for that classroom and turn the rest
Another way that energy costs are reduced is by clustering nighttime
activities in as few buildings as possible to cut heating, cooling and
Sometimes, special adjustments need to be made to save energy. For example,
two of the three air handlers in Town Engineering now are shut off outside
the normal work day. A previous attempt to shut off the air handlers
resulted in odors from some of the labs migrating throughout the building.
Working with occupants of the building, facilities staff found a solution.
Because much of Iowa State's energy is generated with coal, the university
won't be hit as hard as natural gas users if winter heating costs increase
as predicted. But eventually, Thompson said, natural gas increases will
cause increases in the price of coal. How much, he said, isn't known yet.
The people at Iowa State are a big part of the energy conservation program,
Thompson said. By turning off computers, printers and coffee pots or not
running fans and space heaters, they can make a big dent in energy costs.
More information about the university's energy saving program
is available online at http://www.fpm.iastate.edu/utilities/energyefficiency.
Turn it off
Faculty and staff are reminded to take one last look around their offices
before they leave for winter break to make sure they have turned everything
off. Things to double check include lights, personal computers, monitors,
printers, copiers and coffee makers. While the savings from turning a
printer off over the break may not be much, when that savings is multiplied
by hundreds of printers across campus, it mounts up.
Ames, Iowa 50011, (515) 294-4111
Published by: University Relations,
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