UConn Office of Environmental Policy

Promoting sustainability at UConn


Leave a comment

Energy Summit-hosted by Connecticut Light and Power

On Tuesday, February 18, representatives from CL&P hosted an energy summit at the Nathan Hale Inn to collaborate with UConn’s energy employees as well as members from other departments and determine next steps for the University’s energy goals.  The summit started off with a recap of what UConn is currently working on and what successes the University has accomplished thus far.  For example, in the past three years UConn has prevented 39,370 tons of coal and 117,985 barrels of oil from being burned.  Additionally, we were ranked #1 in 2013 for Sierra Club’s Cool Schools Survey.  Going forward UConn plans to mitigate the impact of a growing university through behavior change in the community, retrocommissioning of old buildings, and making sure that all new buildings are as energy efficient as possible.

CL&P invited Walt Henry, a former professor at MIT and current energy consultant to share his experiences at MIT with UConn.  According to Henry, an energy efficient building does not have to cost more than a standard building. “A building is like a cake,” he said “the ingredients in the cake itself are what’s most important, not the frosting and cherry.”  What he means by this is that all you need to do in order to make an energy efficient building within budget is to spend your money in the right places.  Instead of focusing on fancy extras that may seem important, you should focus on using the right materials in the right places.  For example, instead of spending money on limestone, use cast stone.  It is less expensive and works just as well.  You should however invest the money on good spray foam insulation and windows since air tight walls increase efficiency.

Henry ended his presentation with some key take-aways that may help UConn when making the designs for new buildings. For one thing, architects and engineers must collaborate so that the structure of the building and the internals work together.  Also it is important to take intelligent risks, knowing what could possibly go wrong, but not being afraid to be a leader in sustainable building.  Finally, Henry noted his opinion on how LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-a current ranking system for many green buildings) should not drive the design of a new building.  The planners should make the best building they can and then use LEED as a yardstick.  This way, they have the chance to be innovative and possibly even make a better building than LEED calls for.

Going forward, UConn still has many things to consider and there is always room for improvement.  However, meetings like this increase collaboration among UConn departments, our partner CL&P, and other universities to help turn the best ideas into reality one step at a time.

-Katie


Leave a comment

Are You Ready for Some Sustainability!

This week marked the beginning of the EcoMadness Competition!  We’ll be running features on EcoMadness throughout the month of October to encourage those of you who are participating! The goal is to reduce the amount of water and energy your dorm uses – we’ve been monitoring your usage during September, and we’ll be sending you updates with your usage and reduction during October.  Check with your RA or Hall Director if you’re unsure if your building is part of the competition.  If you want to be part of the competition next year, let us know where you live! If you want to be an Eco-Captain for your building, join us for our first meeting tonight – 10/3/13 – at 6:30pm in 163 Austin (formerly CLAS).  We’ll go over the basics, give you tips for motivating your fellow students, and give you a t-shirt to wear to EcoMadness events, and help get you excited to save water and energy in your dorms!

ecomadness poster1


1 Comment

Preparing for EcoMadness

Here at the Office of Environmental Policy, we are in the midst of preparing for this year’s EcoMadness Event.  During the month of EcoMadness, participating residence halls contend in a race to reduce their energy and water usage.  The 7th annual EcoMadness competition will kick off next week, beginning on Sunday, September 29.

There are several ways to measure energy efficiency. Observing trends in the consumption of water and electricity are only a couple of the various approaches. Imagine being able to access this kind of information at any point of the day, and being able to look back at previous energy consumption trends throughout the week, or even throughout the month. Are you a resident of Buckley, and have you ever been curious about the amount of water the entire dormitory consumes at any given day? Or, maybe you are a resident of Whitney, and are curious about how having a dining hall included in your dormitory affects total water and energy consumption?

Unbeknownst to most of the campus community, these kinds of energy statistics are available to anyone online at the campus energy dashboard. Located as a part of the UConn Facilities Operations webpage (http://www.fo.uconn.edu/cogen.html), the campus energy dashboard, graphically and statistically, tracks various trends in water and electricity usage for buildings and residence halls on campus. At the Office of Environmental Policy, the campus energy dashboard is accessed on a regular basis. The energy statistics are compiled into spreadsheets to ultimately be used to determine the baseline water and electricity figures for the dormitories participating in EcoMadness. When EcoMadness begins, the campus energy dashboard will still be accessed in order to compare current water or electricity consumption figures to the baseline consumption figures. The dormitories that show the greatest reduction in consumption will be rewarded (with ice cream), although any reduction will be applauded (because conservation is its own reward). The primary goal of EcoMadness is to instill a behavioral change in students that will cause them to be mindful of how their everyday actions impact their carbon footprint and the environment.

By accessing the campus energy dashboard, you can always check to see how much water and energy your building is using on a daily basis. You can even compare these values to your competition’s water and energy use (We should note that our office has to make some adjustments for additional features like emergency lighting and dining halls for the official competition results).  In the future, the energy dashboards located in Oak and Laurel Hall will also be able to provide anyone on campus with access to data on water and energy consumption.  In the meantime, though, it’s time to go green with EcoMadness! Stay blue, UConn.

– Meredith and Brianna


1 Comment

EcoMadness Final Results 2012!

The final results on EcoMadness 2012 are in!

Energy

Throughout the competition, Buckley has held the number one spot for lowest daily per capita usage of energy, at 3.7 kWh per student per day.  Their hard work and dedication kept them in the lead, and as a reward they will have a free UConn Dairy Bar ice cream party in addition to bragging rights!

In the energy reduction category, Sherman/Webster of Towers held the lead for three weeks. However, during our double or nothing final week of competition, Whitney scrambled ahead in the final moments! They had held a top three position throughout the competition, but Whitney beat out Sherman/Webster by a slim 0.03% finishing for a 20.5% total reduction in energy consumption.

Of the 23 participating dorms, 21 successfully reduced their energy consumption by a total average of 8.5%. The average per capita use was 4.4 kWh per day.

Water

Sprague, the new home of EcoHouse, was the clear winner for water reduction with an incredible final reduction of 21.0%! For some perspective on what a major accomplishment this was, the second place dorm reduced by 13.0%. Since the second week of competition, Sprague held its leading spot with steady improvements each week.   Another winner who held their position consistently throughout EcoMadness was Hamilton/Wade/Fenwick/Keller of Towers with an average per capita consumption of 32.0 gallons of water per day throughout the course of the competition.

Nine of the 23 dorms reduced their water consumption by an overall average of 2.9%.  Excluding the dorms whose water consumption was unchanged, the average reduction in water consumption was 7.1%.  The average per capita use of water was 39.9 gallons per day. (Converting that to its weight, the average per capita use is 334 lbs of water daily!)

An honorable mention goes out to our second and third place dorms for all four winning categories:

Per Capita Energy: Holcomb (2nd Place) and Batterson (3rd Place)
Energy Use Reduction (%): Sherman/Webster (2nd Place) and Hollister A/Hollister B (3rd Place)

Per Capita Water: Terry (2nd Place) and Spraque (33.4)
Water Use Reduction: Alsop A/Alsop B (2nd Place) and Whitney (3rd Place)

The overall final results are as follows:

Water Reduction Winner:
Sprague (21% Reduction)

Energy Reduction Winner:
Whitney (East) (20.5% Reduction)

Water Usage Per Capita Winner:
Hamilton/Wade/Fenwick/Keller (32 gallons)

Energy Usage Per Capita Winner:
Buckley (3.7 kWh)

Congratulations to all the dorms that successfully reduced their water and/or energy consumption during the course of EcoMadness.  Keep up the good work and remember to keep conserving!