Monday, December 8, 2008

Between One Half and Two Thirds

We just received word today from Steve Shadford, the College's Energy Engineer, that North Hall's transition into the hands of environmentally- and energy-aware students caused a 58% electricity use deduction for the fall term! That means we used between one half and two thirds LESS electricity than North Hall residents from the past five years.

The blitz from Steve:

Well the results are in and I am pleased to announce that our Sustainable Living Center residents in North Hall have used 58% LESS energy during this fall semester than the occupants of the same building during comparable fall semesters over the previous 5 year period! This is remarkable. All of the students of the SLC should be commended on their stewardship of our finite resources!

I might note that this was achieved without any specific individual pledges, without working or living in the dark, and at least for the fall semester without benefit of live feedback of their electrical energy footprint (This last aspect will change in the Winter Semester as the GreenLite project will now be able to capture live data from the North Hall electrical energy meter).

I have attached a chart showing fall semester use in North Hall during the past 6 years. The green bars stand out in the crowd based upon their very short height!

Three cheers for the SLC students!

Best regards,
Steve Stephen R. Shadford, P.E., LEED AP
Energy Engineer
Dartmouth College Facilities Operations and Management
Engineering and Utilities
The green bars are US!

I'm not certain about the other residents, but this made me want to run around campus with a banner yelling "58 PERCENT!" as loud as I could.

The thing is, we didn't really do anything drastic. I'm actually not sure where such a large decrease came from. Here's what I can think of that we did.

> Used natural light when available.

> When it was dim or dark outside, we used lights when we were in the room, shut them when we weren't.

> Dried clothes on a clothesline and drying racks in the basement instead of using a dryer. Contrary to popular belief, drying clothes in a dryer doesn't really dry them much faster than air-drying. I'd guess about 1 hour for the machine and about 1.5 - 2 hours on a clothesline / drying rack, though jeans require a few more hours.

> Used one communal fridge instead of individual mini-fridges.

You'll note that our use climbed only slightly during the year. I think this additional energy use simply reflectes changes in the amount of available daylight -- we had lights on longer in November than we did in September.

Here's what our vision was to reduce electricity use, apart from the above behavioral changes:

> Install motion/light sensors so that lights are only on when natural light is insufficient, and when people are in a room.

> Remove the dryer from the dorm completely (it was used a few times by a few people).

> Change overhead lights to LEDs, put energy-sucking ventilation fans in bathroom on a separate switch (right now they both go on together, which is annoying and loud).

Can we get to zero net energy? For electricity, basic calculations show we'd need about a 1 kW photovoltaic array. That's really not much, and easily doable at North Hall. All we'd need is some funding. Anyone have a spare $8000? ...Oh right. The economy.

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