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April 27, 2006 • Volume 14 Number 16

Program Is Making an Impact, Say Administrators

Campaign seen as effective, but University is continuing to battle against rising energy costs

Boston College administrators are hailing the success of a campus energy conservation program initiated earlier this year that has saved about $1 million and is being touted as a first step to more effective use of resources at the University.

"The program has been very successful and a lot of people deserve credit for stepping up to the challenge," said Utilities Manager Deirdre Manning '88, a former top energy policy maker in Massachusetts who joined the University last month. "We're off to a good start, but there's still more we need to do."

In January, the University began a public campaign directed by the Office of Public Affairs with the message that conserving energy through simple means could save Boston College money through reduced costs while also helping the school to do its part for the environment.

Such practical measures as keeping windows closed during cold months, unplugging cell phone chargers and turning out the lights contributed to big savings, according to University administrators.

Manning cited several instances where BC technicians, trade shop staff and engineers helped to economize some campus operations: aging, inefficient motors that ran heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems were replaced; housekeeping crews made extra efforts to spot and report places where energy was being wasted; electricians working the second shift did sweeps of campus to find areas that could be more efficiently illuminated.

In addition, some members of the University community who remained on campus during Christmas break consolidated their living areas so heat and lighting could be turned down in other buildings.

Manning praised Newton Campus residents who participated in a contest to see which residence hall could reduce energy usage by the greatest percentage. The winner was the Hardey-Cushing residence hall, which cut usage by nearly 11 percent.

"Just because the warm weather is coming doesn't mean any of these challenges are going to subside," said Manning, a former commissioner with the state's Department of Telecommunications and Energy.

She added that a forthcoming University communications campaign will ask members of the BC community to monitor and manage use of air conditioning, among other energy conservation measures for warm-weather months.

Facilities Services Director Michael Jednak welcomed Manning's presence on the energy conservation planning team: "She has the big picture perspective and that's exactly what we need."

Although the progress of the campus conservation program is encouraging thus far, administrators point out that the nearly $1 million savings it produced has been offset by the rising cost of energy and the ever-larger piece of the University budget it consumes.

"The savings are there, but the costs are still larger than they were in the past," said Manning. "The price of energy has risen faster than we can reduce costs. That's going to be a problem for a long time and we've got to address it on a continual basis."

"Whether from an economic, geopolitical or environmental standpoint, using energy more efficiently is a subject that people care about," said Manning. "The efforts of every single person really make a difference."

If you have an idea for conserving energy at BC, contact Deirdre Manning.

-Stephen Gawlik

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