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Purchasing wind power for a greener campus, using infrared technology to detect insulation leaks, and switching to soda machines with sleep timers are all initiatives that CU is taking to actively curb energy waste on campus.
“Students here are really interested in protecting the environment. Because we are in such an environmentally beautiful area, we get a lot of environmentalists here,” said Jon Previtali, the Energy Efficiency Fund Coordinator and civil engineering graduate student.
Student fees were recently used to finance the new ATLAS and law buildings under the condition that they use sustainable energy, like wind power, to operate, according to Campus Energy Conservation Officer, Moe Tabrizi.
The two new buildings were built under the standards of a certification called “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design,” (LEED) which require the buildings to uphold principles concerning the site, water and energy use, recycled building materials, and indoor air quality.
At this time, only the UMC is LEED Certified, although the ATLAS and law buildings are currently under review for their certification. After these buildings are certified, CU will continue building to meet LEED standards, although they are unlikely to go through the process of certification, according to Energy Program Manager, Robert Hall.
“The most noticeable things about LEED buildings is they tend to be more comfortable and more energy efficient,” Hall said.
They also tend to have better daylight lighting, which is believed to make people more productive according to Hall.
Other projects are also underway to help CU conserve its energy use. In Feb. 2006, CU employed a helicopter equipped with infrared technology to survey 200 buildings to document potential energy leaks.
The survey found 50 buildings exhibiting some form of energy loss, a problem which is currently in the process of being fixed, according to Tabrizi.
Infrared technology uses a process where buildings are scanned with infrared cameras to measure the surface temperature of the buildings to see where potential heat escape might be happening, he said.
CU is also working with Pepsi to install soda dispensers with power-save technology, which would turn the machines off when the building is closed, according to Tabrizi. The machines would still maintain a reasonable temperature and they would turn back on to dispense the product if money is inserted, he said.
Another project the CU Environmental Center is working on is the Wind Energy Challenge, which allows students and staff to purchase wind energy in order to offset the energy used from coal and natural gas, according to Previtali.
CU is leading the nation in many of its energy conservation projects and is the first campus to start a student-run recycling program.
“We were the first campus to start buying wind energy on a large scale,” Previtali said.
One of the Environmental Center’s goals is to decrease the energy used on campus by 5 percent a year.
“Last year was the first time we actually met our goal,” Hall said. “Little things add up to make a huge difference.”
As for individual energy conservation, students can do little things like putting their computers to sleep when they aren’t using them, walking or riding bikes instead of driving, and purchasing wind power, according to Previtali.
To proactively help the Environment Center’s goals, an energy conservation hotline has been set up for students and staff where they can report energy waste.
“The hotline is how we get a lot of our ideas for conservation projects on campus,” Tabrizi said.
The number for the hotline is (303)735-6202 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.