January 26, 2012

Contest Reduces University Energy Use

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A competition in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences saved approximately $230,000 by reducing an estimated 2 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions in six buildings, according to a Dec. 12 press release from the University.

Administrators said the Barton Lab in Geneva, N.Y., reduced its emissions by 800,000 pounds — more than any other building in the competition. The yearlong competition was sponsored by the CALS Green Initiative and Cornell’s Office of Energy and Sustainability.

Dominic Frangillo, the coordinator of CALS Green, said that the smaller buildings in the competition, including Wing Hall and the Barton Lab, were more effective in reducing energy consumption.

Frangillo said that shutting down one fume hood — a venilation device designed to limit exposure to noxious fumes — cut more than 33,000 pounds of CO2 emissions and saved $4,000 a year. He  concluded that 17 percent of the fume hoods at Cornell could be removed.

CALS administrators implemented various energy efficiency measures, such as installing energy efficient lightbulbs, not only to reduce carbon use, but also to create jobs and save money, according to Frangillo.

“Instead of paying energy bills, we can bring those resources back to the mission of education — it’s a win-win for everybody,” he said.

The CALS Green project, according to CALS Green Director Lauren Chambliss, is an energy conservation and sustainability initiative started by Director of Energy Management Lanny Joyce and CALS Associate Dean Michael Hoffmann.

“They started looking at [Cornell’s] Climate Action Plan, which they were both integral in the forming of, and said, ‘Wow, there’s this behavioral component,’” she said. “Now that were moving ahead with all these things to make Cornell a green campus, we really need to start looking at the human behavioral component.”

Chambliss said the response from the Cornell community to the CALS Green initiative has exceeded her expectations.

“We were quite surprised at people’s willingness to engage [in CALS Green] and also the level of information people already had and how willing people were. It’s a very motivated campus,” Chambliss said.

Frangillo said that, last year, several students were responsible for identifying areas in which buildings could conserve energy or become more efficient.

Alison O’Neil ’12, one of the students involved with CALS Green, said that laboratories were an important target for energy conservation due to their energy-consuming machinery.  One of the most energy-consuming machines identified by CALS Green was fume hoods.

Frangillo said CALS Green is unique because it follows Cornells Climate Action Plan and also because, it influences Cornellians to change their behavior

“We have a lot of initiatives going on across the University tackling building energy efficiency and working on reducing our transportation, but this is the first college-level program focused on the behavior of building occupants,” Frangillo said. “When you realize that people you count as peers are also taking action, it’s a motivator to take action.”

Original Author: Byron Kittle