Going All Out at Macalester College: Energy Saving Projects, Workshops & Tracking

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by Rosie Mate, Metro CERT Assistant • April 2012
Type: 
CERTs
Macalester College

February is not only the start of the semester at Macalester College, but also the campus’ energy-themed month. Suzanne Savanick Hansen and her crew of sustainability students hit the ground running this winter with workshops and a host of new resources for the campus community.

The Macalester Sustainability Office is one of the newest Metro CERT affiliates, and they have been quickly finding opportunities to partner together. In January, the Macalester Sustainability Office hosted a “January Thaw” workshop for faculty and staff on campus. The program was an opportunity to report on Macalester’s progress with the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) to reduce the campus’ greenhouse gases, and to start a conversation about energy conservation actions on campus and at home.

The Macalester Sustainability Office’s work is primarily motivated by the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment. The commitment included conducting an emissions inventory for the Macalester campus and drafting a sustainability plan to help meet campus-wide emissions reduction goals. The goals are to reduce emissions from 2008 levels 17.5% by 2015, 35% by 2020, and 52% by 2025. In 2025, the campus would need to offset the remaining emissions for climate neutrality. Macalester has been tracking their emissions since 1990 and their efforts are paying off with a promising downward trend in recent years. Approximately two thirds of campus emissions come from heat and electric, making energy conservation a high priority.

February 2012 brought several additional energy events to campus. One of the events was a workshop for homeowners where the Macalester Sustainability Office invited Neely Crane-Smith from Center for Energy and Environment to present on residential energy efficiency. The second event was a workshop for student renters. The renter workshop was run by Julia Eagles from Metro CERT as part of their effort to improve resources for renter communities. The student workshop provided information on what to look for when choosing a rental property, renter rights in terms of maintenance and repair, and lots of renter-friendly ways to conserve energy. The program concluded with a discussion and the opportunity for students to assemble their own energy efficiency starter kits to take home. The kits included many items that students could put to use immediately, including faucet aerators, CFL light bulbs, weather stripping, clay sealing caulk, shower timers, and more.

The Macalester Sustainability Office has also added an additional page to their website (http://bit.ly/macenergysavingtips) that includes resources for student renters who are either preparing to live off campus or have moved off campus already. The Macalester Sustainability Office has also been working with the Office of Student Affairs to increase the information available for students living off campus on energy conservation and renter rights. This collaboration produced an “Off-Campus Housing Guide” for students planning on moving off campus that includes information about utility bills and energy efficiency steps for renters.

There are always conservation projects happening at Macalester and much of the focus of Energy Month is keeping the college informed about these projects. In fact, since 2007, 41 energy efficiency projects have taken place on campus and proposals for more keep rolling in. Some of these projects were funded from Macalester’s Clean Energy Revolving Fund (CERF), which operated from 2007-2009, and now has been merged with the campus’ Technology, Equipment and Maintenance Sustainability Fund. These projects included things like insulating student apartments, installing low-flow fixtures, purchasing ENERGY STAR appliances, and installing efficient light bulbs. The CERF projects alone are estimated to save $46,231, as well as 2,166,705 lbs of CO2e and 260,000 gallons of water annually.

Other recent, major projects include the recommissioning of the Olin-Rice Science Center in 2010, the largest energy user on campus. The lights and vent hoods were placed on occupancy sensors to ensure that the building is only heating or cooling spaces when needed. The electric motors in the heating, cooling, and ventilation (HVAC) system have also been changed to more efficient variable-speed drives. These adjustments save the college over $50,000 in energy costs annually.

To learn more about sustainability projects on the Macalester campus, contact the Macalester Sustainability Office at 651-696-8138 or sustainability@macalester.edu.

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