Awareness Campaign Promotes Energy Savings


Northern will launch a campaign this week to raise awareness among employees and students of steps they can take to conserve energy and trim the university’s annual $7 million utility bill.


If all NMU employees set their computers and monitors to hibernate after 30 minutes of inactivity, for example, the annual energy savings would be about $35,000 per year. Other facts and tips outlined in the campaign are: shades and blinds can reduce a room’s peak cooling load by 30-50 percent; there are more than 20,000 light switches on campus, many of which should be shut off if a room will be unoccupied for more than five minutes; and a typical fume hood increases heating/cooling costs by $5,000 a year, but closing the sash can decrease energy use and increase safety.


“It’s not an issue of whether people are willing to increase energy efficiency; it’s making them conscious of things they can do each day in the hope that it becomes a habit,” said Kathy Richards (Engineering and Planning). “We all have the ability to make small, simple changes that—when combined—can make a big difference. Even a 1 percent reduction in our utility bill is a lot of money. I’m excited because of the potential savings for the university. It helps everyone’s budget because utilities are deducted off the top of the operational funding we receive.”


Richards said occupant awareness, or educating the campus community about proactive measures, is one of the most important and inexpensive ways to reduce energy waste. Other components of a strategic approach to improving energy efficiency are facility upgrades and operations and maintenance. But these require up-front investments that are recouped gradually through savings.


The energy awareness effort aligns with the governor’s 21st Century Energy Plan, the sustainability goals outlined in the “NMU Road Map to 2015” and the university’s heightened need to reduce operational expenses in response to a sluggish economy and an anticipated shortfall in state funding.


A related e-mail will be distributed this week to kick off the awareness campaign.


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Updated: March 12, 2009

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