January shows promising start for energy conservation program

The College used almost 12 percent less energy this January than it did in January 2005, according to Matt Golden, director of Communications and Media Relations.

The “Knowledge is Power” energy conservation initiative, coupled with mild January temperatures, contributed to reduced energy consumption, Golden said.

It is not yet clear how this will affect the budget. “We can’t calculate January expenditures yet, since the month just ended and the billing cycle isn’t complete,” he said.

The ongoing conservation initiative, which was launched in early December in response to rising energy costs, includes setting building thermostats to 68 degrees, as well as asking students, staff and faculty to turn off lights, computers and appliances when not in use and to keep windows and doors shut.

According to AccuWeather.com, the average temperature for Trenton last month was 38.5 degrees Fahrenheit, six-and-two-tenths degrees warmer than normal.

Campus building temperatures had been set between 72 and 76 degrees before the initiative launched, Golden said. The temperature reduction could save $200,000, according to an official e-mail explaining the initiative.

Older buildings like Green Hall and Holman Hall have historically experienced temperature control problems, Golden said, but the heating systems are being repaired.

“We have actually heard that certain buildings are more comfortable than in previous years, even at the lower set-point temperatures, because the repaired heating systems are functioning better,” Golden said. “A few (heating) issues are more complex, however, and would require major capital investment to rectify.”

The official e-mail announcing the initiative, sent on Dec. 6, stated that because of increased costs, the College “anticipates an increase of $2.5 million for energy-related operating costs during this fiscal year alone.”

Members of the campus community who have embraced the initiative “are making a significant difference” in reducing energy consumption, Golden said.

Some staff members in the office of Residence Life and Community Development are among those supporting the initiative. Katie Messina, sophomore “ResLife staff members are doing their best to promote the energy conservation program and turning off lights every chance we get.”

Ryan Moriarty, sophomore business administration-management major and community advisor, said he asks his residents to turn off their computers when they go to bed instead of leaving up away messages. “Nobody cares if you’re sleeping,” he said.

The Residence Life staff has been told to keep windows shut and lights off in common areas, like laundry rooms, lounges and trash rooms, Messina said.

Golden said the campus community is asked to reduce energy consumption “because utility costs have a tremendous impact on the College’s budget.”

“(The College) operates with a limited pool of resources,” he said. “We want to devote as many of those resources as possible to initiatives and programs that improve the educational experiences of our students.”

In January 2005, the College used 2,555,324 kilowatt-hours, as compared to 2,261,941 kilowatt-hours in January 2006.

Energy conservation suggestions can be sent to Lori Winyard, director of the Office of Energy and Central Utilities, at winyard@tcnj.edu.

More information about the initiative can be found at tcnj.edu/energy/index.html.