SU assembles team to assess Archbold Gymnasium's energy use
By: Alison Bryant
Joseph Lore receives multiple
complaints during winter months about the exceptionally warm temperature of
Syracuse University's Department of Recreation Services
office in Archbold Gymnasium.
Occupants of the space have no access to a thermostat and cannot adjust the radiators. To rectify the problem, Lore, director of the department, must turn on an individually controlled air conditioning unit.
A team of volunteers will assess Archbold's energy use in the coming weeks as part of the Adopt-a-Building project, where the team will use the findings to show employees opportunities for energy conservation, said Steve Lloyd, chief sustainability officer at SU.
A six-person group of students and staff will check the presence of properly marked recycling and trash receptacles within the building. They will count the number of lights and machines left on in areas of low activity and conduct an inventory of other potentially wasteful practices, Lloyd said.
"I think a lot of things are left on here that shouldn't be," Lloyd said. "It's not to criticize anybody. It's to show opportunities."
Lloyd said he selected Archbold as the pilot building for the project because it's home to a variety of frequently used spaces, including a gym, classrooms and offices.
An average of 900 people per day used the fitness center in Archbold during the week of Aug. 25, according to daily sign-in sheets.
Volunteers will speak with Archbold employees to learn about current energy consumption in the building. Staff members may use the opportunity to communicate concerns about utilities and recycling in the workplace.
Adopt-a-Building does not require a budget because people volunteer to participate. Results may ultimately save the university money on utility bills for the building, Lloyd said.
In the 2008 fiscal year, Archbold used two million kilowatt hours of electricity, according to the Archbold Gym Utility Data. A customer service representative at National Grid, an electric service company, said that a building using that many kilowatt hours may cost the owners up to $350,000 per year in electric bills, depending on fluctuating billing figures.
The Adopt-a-Building project functions in accordance with the American College and University President's Climate Commitment, which Chancellor Nancy Cantor signed in February 2007. By signing the ACUPCC, Cantor committed SU to eliminating its contribution to global warming over time, said Melissa Cadwell, marketing manager of energy and computing management.
"We recognized that it takes a whole community to change," Cadwell said. "This is a good commitment for Syracuse University."
The ACUPCC requires complying institutions to submit a greenhouse gas audit - an assessment of unsustainable energy - within a year of signing. Institutions then set a target date to achieve climate neutrality, the emission of no net greenhouse gas, Cadwell said.
To complete this task, the university formed a sustainability division within the department of energy and computing management in July 2007, Cadwell said.
The four members of the division and other volunteers reviewed the university's utility bills, surveys on commuting, maintenance equipment and physical plant zones to complete the greenhouse gas audit. The university submitted the audit on Sept. 13, 2008.
Cadwell said that signing the ACUPCC has motivated SU to take more initiative in going green.
"The President's Climate Commitment was the big push," Cadwell said. "Going green, we have been doing this for 10 to 15 years. We're trying to play catch-up and we're slowly gaining ground. Every day, we gain ground."
Lloyd designed the Adopt-a-Building project to involve students in the goals of the ACUPCC.
Sarah Kelsen, a first-year master's student at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, signed up for Adopt-a-Building after assisting with the greenhouse gas audit last year. An active member of the University Sustainability Action Coalition, Kelsen said she is eager to begin the project.
"I'm very interested in how we can make a culture shift happen," she said.
Some Archbold staff members already practice environmental responsibility in the workplace.
Letecha Dixon, a sophomore public relations major, works as a service attendant in Archbold on Fridays. Dixon said she was told to wash the towels lent out to facility users every thirty minutes. Instead, she waits until she has a full load of laundry before running the machine.
Dixon pitched a few other sustainable ideas.
"I think that we should make it so that when we do laundry, we check the bathrooms to make sure nothing's running," she said. "We should make it part of the routine with a sheet to fill out."
Lore said that Recreation Services uses Energy Star-certified energy efficient washers and dryers every 45 minutes.
Still, Lore said he would appreciate the advice and assistance of Adopt-a-Building in order to eliminate unsustainable practices, such as running the heat and air conditioning simultaneously.
Kelsen said a number of students may approve of Adopt-a-Building because environmental sustainability issues pertain to their generation, Kelsen said.
"It's the challenge our generation faces," she said. "We have to pay attention now because it could make or break it, really."
© Copyright 2008 The Daily Orange