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Convenience vs. Saving the World


Lyndee Zeller


Roanoke College is coming to terms with its old energy-sucking buildings and putting an energy conservation program into place.  The program will have suggestions and guidelines to help conserve energy, rather than waste it. Dan Cohen is heading this new program designed to help students and faculty lessen their negative impact on the environment.

Academic buildings such as Life Science, Trexler and Olin have humidity problems, which contributes to the excessive use of energy. Without a dehumidifier in Trexler, professors cannot print because the paper is too damp. Staff members say they pour out a full container of water each day because of the humidity in just one room. The new program considers these building faults and will work to produce the most efficient methods to unplug more effectively. Some buildings are freezing while others are extremely hot. Cohen says this is because the building mechanics are not acting as they should and cause outages like those experienced last week.

The Ballroom in Colket, like other rooms around campus, is set at a specific temperature. The air-conditioning system flows 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Now, the air-conditioning is turned off when the Ballroom is not being used for events, and this has already saved thousands of dollars, according to Cohen. The guidelines that the college has put in place as adequate heating and cooling temperatures are 74–78 degrees for cooling and 68–70 degrees for heating. The systems for cooling and heating are designed to fill a room when the doors and windows are closed. If a door is opened while the air conditioning is cooling the room, the system will then have to work to cool the hallway where the temperature is different. Pickle Lounge in Colket would be working to cool all of the Main Atrium in Colket instead of just the room if the door is opened. Closing doors and windows will allow for better performance and less energy drain.

Space heaters and individual air-conditioning units are other major energy suckers that work against a central system. Leaving them running while one is not in the room wastes energy. The main suggestions Cohen gives for saving energy are the ones taught ever since I can remember. “Turn your light off when you leave the room for longer than ten minutes”, and “don’t leave the water running while you brush your teeth”. We all know what we should do, but we could all be more conscious. There is a way to reduce waste without sacrificing comfort, which is what Cohen aims to do.

Students who have mini-refrigerators in their rooms, but have a common area fridge are wasting energy. When a laptop computer screen is left open while the laptop is not being used, the computer doesn’t power-save unless it is manually set to do so. To make this as easy as possible, close the laptop when finished or if it will not be used for longer than 10 minutes.  Even a screen saver uses energy. Laptops also have an energy saver button and sleep mode option to save power. There are many small ways to save energy around campus. Energy conservation is about awareness and behavior.