LiveGreen: Energy curtailment nears

by Anne Rivas, LiveGreen | June 17, 2014

Image with file name: Live07231.jpg

It's almost that time again -- time to face the challenge of saving energy at a higher education, patient-care and research institution during high summer on the prairie. (Cue heroic music.)

It's time to prepare to participate in campus climate conservation, a.k.a. energy curtailment. When the outside temperature becomes unbearable, we'll ask people to turn their lights off where ambient light is adequate, and to close their window blinds to keep the sun out.

People may ask:

If we're saving energy, why is my office so dang cold? Aren't we wasting energy on air conditioning?

Patient care and research spaces need to maintain a constant rate of air flow. In these spaces, we combine both heated and chilled air, regulating temperature the way we adjust the water in a shower -- adding both hot and cold to give us a comfortable temperature. During curtailment, we decrease the amount of heated air to save energy, so some spaces will feel cold.

Other spaces will feel warmer than usual, as less energy will be used to cool them. Please call 9-4050 to report spaces colder than 66 degrees or warmer than 75 degrees.

How will we know when the campus is in energy curtailment?

An e-mail will be sent to the LiveGreen listserve when energy curtailment begins. Contact LiveGreen to be added to the list. People who receive this email will be asked to forward it to others in their department who may not be on the list.

Why put ourselves through this?
Lower energy use means better air quality, which means a healthier community, and our utility rates are based on our peak use. That's right; it's not just a one-month savings. The month that we use the most energy determines the rate we pay for the entire next year. We want to keep that peak as low as possible.

Why do we turn off lights and close the blinds?

As a kid, did you ever burn leaves with a magnifying glass? The same thing happens when the sun shines in our windows, only we're the leaves. Keeping the sun out keeps buildings cooler, and turning lights off to save energy -- well -- saves energy.

So, counterintuitive as it seems, when the mercury climbs this summer, be prepared -- dress in work-appropriate layers. Stow a sweater, a pair of closed-toe shoes and some socks in a desk drawer. Turn your lights off and close your window blinds. By conserving this energy, we not only ensure that all systems on campus are working, we also help to improve air quality in Omaha and the surrounding area, conserve natural resources and save money.


Fill out the following and your comment will post once it has been approved.

Name (Required)

Email (Required)

Thank you, your comment will appear below once it has been approved.

June 18, 2014 at 10:51 AM

Nice the first comment out of the gates is somewhat negative (if I'm interpreting it right). If I remember last year there was an article about doing the same thing on a Friday because of the temps that were going to be rather high over this time period and I think Darren Dageforde or Ken Hansen put out an article talking about some crazy figure in the $100k's of dollars that was saved just in that short time frame because of the actions by the staff and the Security Officers that were told to go around and help ensure that this request was being fulfilled and to help take appropriate action (close blinds) if they saw them open over that weekend. Like this article reports, just put on a sweater to warm up. Seems simple.

June 17, 2014 at 11:09 AM

I guess just means more trips outside, i.e. more open doors, to warm up. I might even open my shades . . .