In efforts to control an outrageous utility bill as PLU of over $1.3 million, as well as exercise our right to common sense, PLU is considering implementing several Utility Management Guidelines. The first of which would be a Temperature Set Point Policy that required buildings to lower heat or air conditioning during night and weekend unoccupied hours. Of course their will be some buildings exempt such as residence halls and laboratories, but the savings the rest of campus would see would be in the thousands of dollars. At the same time, what if the heat would be set at a solid 68 degrees in winter, and a cooler 76 in the summer? Would you even notice? What could PLU do with that kind of savings? Please answer these questions below, and bring up others you are concerned about. This policy is ready to go, and it needs input to move forward!
A utility is defined as anything that is useful, and a utility resource is capable of being readily drawn upon when needed. However, society is beginning to accept that while readily accessible today, most utilities are not renewable for future generations. In addition, overconsumption has produced a list of potential disasters including limited transmission lines and rising costs for the increased demand. Most importantly, production of some utilities can be exceedingly harmful to the natural world. For example, electricity production and natural gas extraction both release dangerous greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to both air quality and global climate change.
PLU has continuously stepped up to the plate with sustainability-based initiatives. As a signatory of the Talloires Agreement and member of the Presidents’ Climate Commitment Leadership Council, the University has already established standardized low flow plumbing fixtures, embraced a green building policy, and worked to spread sustainability throughout curriculum, among other achievements. For the sake of this set of guidelines however, utilities will be the targeted measures for their unique potential and will be defined as any resource that PLU must purchase.
There are multiple reasons to adopt Utility Management Guidelines. They are a first step in a path to carbon neutrality, which PLU is strongly committed to. The best source of green energy is that energy which can be avoided altogether. Utility Management Guidelines are low to no cost to implement, but cost savings can be tremendous. In addition, maintenance is reduced on equipment not being overly used, resulting in significant savings for the University.
Utility Management Guidelines are not meant to replace plans for capital upgrades, but rather assist in the prioritization or even determining necessity. Wise use of utilities will isolate costs to the true usage, and eliminate waste. Waste results in unnecessary spending and increased environmental damage. With the exact usage needs determined, planned retrofits may be deemed unnecessary in lieu of greater opportunities in other facilities.
Puget Sound Energy (PSE) identifies nine key categories where conservation opportunities lie. As a leader in sustainability, and a sponsor of the sustainability coordinator position at PLU, their established categories are a perfect starting point. They are:
1. Building Operation
2. Building Envelope
3. HVAC Systems
4. HVAC Distribution Systems
5. Water Heating Systems
6. Lighting Systems
7. Power Systems
8. Energy Management Control Systems
9. Heat Recovery Systems
From these, it is suggested that PLU adopt guidelines to ensure wise use of utilities. Such may include, but are not limited to, Seasonal Power-down Guidelines, Temperature Set Point Guidelines, Laboratory Energy Conservation Guidelines, Lighting Guidelines, Standardization of Water Flow and Printer Utilization Guidelines.
So as not to slow progress, it is suggested that they be drafted and implemented separately as appendices of the whole. This will gradually accustom campus community, as well as gain immediate cost savings.