Feb 182009
Authors: Stephen Lin

CSU officials said this week that the university is working around the clock to cut back on energy costs amid a mounting economic downturn that state leaders say will cut $12.5 million from the school’s budget next year.

But Brian Chase, the director for Facilities Management, said it’s not feasible for CSU keep up with other universities.

Carol Dollard, an energy engineer with Facilities Management, said the university currently saves $950,000 a year with energy conservation projects — efforts that will become increasingly important as furthered cuts in state funding, which could total $12.5 million for CSU next fiscal year, are looming.

In California, however, UCLA closed down certain buildings on campus during winter break to cut costs, but Chase said CSU can’t afford to perform similar measures.

Chase said if CSU shuts down the heating during the winter, the pipes will freeze. Instead, Chase said the university “watch(es) energy use very carefully” and “maintain(s) buildings at a certain temperature.”

Using a sophisticated control system that measures the temperature outside, the buildings are maintained at a steady 72 to 74 degrees to conserve utility costs.

Chase voiced his concerns on the impractical nature of closing certain areas, saying that buildings on campus usually have people in them performing research and that closing them would not be “productive.”

“It doesn’t make sense if it makes everyone miserable,” Chase said.

Though CSU won’t close down any buildings, Chase also said there were many projects that were being pursued.

Many of these efforts are chronicled in what Emily Wilmsen, CSU spokes person, called the “Green Tome.”

Many renovations are saving the university money; for instance, the installation of 42 water-saver kits on autoclaves, which use steam to sterilize equipment in the science labs, will save the university more than $61,000, Dollard said.

Projects like the biomass boiler at the Animal Reproduction and Biotechnology Laboratory on the Foothills Campus use a readily available resource: woodchips — a fuel which costs half as much as natural gas.

These renovations come in many shapes and forms, like replacing many old lights for efficient fluorescent lights or the irrigation on campus, which consists of raw water rather than water treated to human drinking standards, saving the university another $250,000.

While these projects occur outside of student influence, Dollard emphasized the impact that students and faculty have on the energy consumption.

“If everyone turned off their lights for one hour a day for five days a week, $60,000 a year could be saved.”

Staff writer Stephen Lin can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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