Nov. 17, 2005 • Volume 14 Number 6

Q&A: Energy conservation at BC

When the mercury drops, Boston Collegeís Facilities Services division is responsible for keeping each of the Universityís 113 buildings warm and comfortable ó not an easy task, given rising fuel costs. Utilities Manager Michael McGerigle recently discussed the University's efforts to conserve energy and optimize the efficiency of campus heating systems.

How much more is BC paying for energy this year compared to five years ago?

Energy prices have risen steadily over the past five years and dramatically over the past year. It is not much different from what everyone is experiencing at home or at the gas pump. Back in 2002 we were paying $0.81 for a gallon of fuel oil and now it is around $2. We have seen similar increases in prices of other fuel we use.

What types of fuel does BC use to heat its buildings?

Residence Halls on Upper Campus and Newton use two types of light oil. Many buildings on Lower and Middle Campus are heated with steam from the Central Heating Plant, which uses both natural gas and low sulfur heavy oil. Most of the remaining buildings use natural gas for heating.

How are heating systems managed on campus? Many of the buildings are being controlled by BCís energy management system. This systems monitors outside air, building space and heating system temperatures and makes automatic adjustments to keep buildings comfortable. It also allows building temperatures to be setback when possible helping to save energy.

BC has some very new buildings and some very old buildings. In terms of efficiency, how do they compare?

If you compare the newest residence hall we have, 110 St. Thomas More Drive, with Kostka and Gonzaga halls built in the late 1950s, it is about 10 percent more efficient heating wise. That is despite the improvements that have been done to Kostka and Gonzaga over the years.

Could you briefly describe some projects that have been completed to improve the efficiency of BCís buildings?

There have been a number of lighting projects completed recently. Cushing Hall, Alumni House, Stuart Hall, Kenny-Cottle Library, Ignacio and Rubenstein halls, for instance, were recently re-lamped with more efficient fluorescent lights. We also did a similar upgrade to the houses in the Hammond Triangle. Another project was replacing the 100-horsepower fan motors serving Conte Forum with high efficiency motors and variable speed drives. Those are the type of improvements most people will never see.

Has BC realized a savings from these projects? Yes, the projects have lowered our energy use on campus. Unfortunately, with rising energy prices the overall cost spent on utilities does not go down proportionately.

What are some things that BC employees can do to conserve energy in the workplace? Employees as well as students know their area better than anyone. Turn off things that donít need to be on. If a space is too warm let the Work Order Center (ext.2-3048) know about it. Donít use an outside window as a thermostat! Also let them know of broken or leaking windows and doors.

Are there any myths about energy conversation that people tend to believe as fact?

One myth is that leaving office lights on costs less than turning them off and on as needed during the day. That used to be somewhat true, but with current lighting, if you're leaving an area for more than 15 minutes shut the lights off. Turn off any office equipment you can overnight and weekends. When you purchase equipment look for the Energy Star label. Every little bit does help. -Stephen Gawlik

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