Tag Archives: Shaw University – 2011

Just Do It: Sometimes Jumping In With Both Feet Is The Best Choice To Make

By Jen Weiss, 2011 EDF Climate Corps Fellow at Shaw University, MEM Candidate, Nicolas School of the Environment, Duke University, Durham, NC

A few weeks ago, I found myself peering over the edge of a forty-two foot platform willing myself to take the leap – to tackle the Mega Jump.  Okay, maybe peering is not the right word.  I was gripping the side of the platform, looking out over the horizon, and wondering how I had ever gotten convinced to do this given my severe fear of heights.  But, there I was.  I decided to stop thinking about it.  Better to trust that it was all going to work out fine than analyze every detail.  I closed my eyes, released my grip, and jumped …

The next moment, I was on the ground.  I checked for breaks or cuts – nothing.  The only thing I felt was exhilaration – a feeling of success and accomplishment.  I had done it. And I had survived.

I get a similar sense of nervous anticipation with energy efficiency.  What’s that?  You don’t follow my leap?  Consider this …

I have just wrapped up my EDF Climate Corps Fellowship at Shaw University in downtown Raleigh.  My EDF partner, Eliza, and I have made recommendations that could save the university over $125,000 a year in annual energy savings.  And, some of these recommendations come at absolutely no cost:

  • Power management (sleep mode) for PCs and copiers
  • Summer setback temperatures for some of the dorms
  • Upgrading exit signs to LED versions
  • Upgrading the residence hall’s laundry services to more energy efficient washing machines
  • Consolidation of office equipment and mini-fridges

A few other recommendations have a small price of admission, but with Progress Energy rebates and very short payback periods, they can be done quickly and savings can be seen within six months:

  • Install vending misers on all vending machines
  • Upgrade lighting to more efficient T-8s
  • Install programmable thermostats (my personal favorite – the savings here are huge!)

Shaw is now standing on the edge of the platform waiting to jump.  The eager faces in the audience as Eliza and I presented these recommendations tell me that they have the desire and commitment to make the changes and lead Shaw into sustainability.  And they certainly have the experience and knowledge to get it done.  The next step is up to them. 

At this point, Shaw needs to take a leap of faith. They need to jump off the platform and feel the exhilaration that comes from saving the planet (and saving money).  There is absolutely nothing to lose and a tremendous amount to gain. My advice? 

Just Do It!

EDF Climate Corps Public Sector (CCPS) trains graduate students to identify energy efficiency savings in colleges, universities, local governments and houses of worship. The program focuses on partnerships with minority serving institutions and diverse communities. Apply as a CCPS fellow, read our blog posts and follow us on Twitter to get regular updates about this program.

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The Thermostat Game

By: Eliza Davis, 2011 Climate Corps Public Sector Fellow at Shaw University in Raleigh, NC; MEM candidate at the Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University

My first month as a Climate Corps Public Sector fellow at Shaw University in Raleigh, NC, has flown by. My EDF partner, Jen Weiss, and I had a whirlwind of meetings with energy specialists, and have explored the ins and outs of Shaw’s campus. We have ventured far and wide in search of energy savings, checking natural gas meters and counting the number of light bulbs in classroom buildings. However, we made one of our greatest discoveries in our very own workspace.

Jen and I work in Estey Hall, a beautiful, red brick administration building. It was constructed in 1864 as a dormitory for women. Because of its age, the building is difficult to uniformly heat and cool. Walking through the hallways and into rooms, we noticed defined layers of temperature. We decided to track thermostat settings to get to the bottom of these temperature discrepancies. What we found surprised us!

Not only were many of the thermostats set at 70 degrees or below, but many newer programmable thermostats were on the energy wasting ‘hold’ setting. This means that the rooms are kept at the same temperature, day or night, full or empty, and regardless of outdoor temperature. Programmable thermostats can reduce energy costs by allowing you to set different temperatures based on the time of day and expected room occupancy.

After figuring out the reasons behind the layers of temperature at Estey Hall, we expanded our investigation to thermostats around campus. We uncovered thermostats of all styles and ages: small square controls that only allow for an up or down adjustment, fancy programmable models, and rectangular hotel-style air conditioner units that have ‘warmer’ to ‘cooler’ dials. Overall, we found that despite the type of thermostat, most offices, classrooms, and meeting spaces were kept cool all day long.

So began our experiment to see if anyone would notice slight increases in temperature in large meeting spaces. We increased a few of the 69-degree thermostats to a range between 72 and 76 degrees. Thus began the thermostat game. Every morning we rushed eagerly to thermostats to check the settings, and lo and behold –  the thermostats were reset and left at or below 70 degrees.

Our survey of Shaw’s thermostats showed us that there is a significant potential for savings with temperature management. In the history of the Climate Corps Public Sector program, temperature management makes up one-third of projected energy savings. Shaw University can easily reduce energy use and carbon pollution through the introduction of more programmable thermostats and a campus-wide energy management system.

The thermostat game taught us the most important lesson: A device is only as good as its operation. We recognize now that energy conservation education will be an important part of our recommendations for Shaw, and we are excited about developing ways to raise awareness about energy use on campus.

EDF Climate Corps Public Sector (CCPS) trains graduate students to identify energy efficiency savings in colleges, universities, local governments and houses of worship. The program focuses on partnerships with minority serving institutions and diverse communities. Apply as a CCPS fellow, read our blog posts and follow us on Twitter to get regular updates about this program.

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Get Your Green On!

By: Jen Weiss, 2011 Climate Corps Public Sector Fellow at Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina; MEM candidate at the Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University

 

Timing, they say, is everything.  And timing combined with knowledgeable and motivated people who want to make a difference?  That, my friends, is just plain ole’ lucky.

My EDF partner Eliza and I have been working at Shaw University, and so far we have found some terrific no-cost and low-cost projects with great payback periods and measurable energy savings. We are beginning to feel that our recommendations are ready to be wrapped up in a pretty green bow.  But, wait … what is this that we have just stumbled across?

An Unexpected and Untapped Treasure

Photo courtesy of Jen WeissThanks to a change in office space midway through our fellowship, we had a chance encounter with two of the most determined women we have ever met.  Please let me introduce you to Ms. Agnes Baxter and Ms. Juanda Holley, the energetic forces behind Shaw University’s newly formed Green Team.  Stand back staff and students of Shaw University, you are about to be hit by another tornado – A bright GREEN tornado!

It all started innocently enough – a casual chat with an office mate about what we were working on at Shaw.  Our discussion about upgrading lights and setting thermostats at reasonable settings turned into a heated brainstorming session about recycling, environmental education, solar, biodiesel, and most importantly – behavioral change at Shaw University.  It appears that we were not the first to think of energy efficiency solutions at Shaw.  And we most definitely will not be the last. Read More »

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The Great Energy Efficiency Treasure Hunt: Finding Savings In Everyday Places

By: Jen Weiss, 2011 Climate Corps Public Sector Fellow at Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina; MEM candidate at the Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University

When I was a kid, I used to love Easter morning. Actually, I still do. Surprisingly, it has little to do with the chocolate bunnies, the jellybeans, and the colorful peeps. What I love is the thrill of the hunt – where are all the treasures hiding and can I find them all?

This is the feeling I get every day here at Shaw University. There are so many energy efficiency treasures hiding in these historic walls just waiting to be found.

Treasure, Treasure Everywhere!

At this point, it would be really easy for me to say something cliché like, “sometimes the no-cost or low-cost solutions are the easiest to implement.” But these energy efficiency mantras don’t get my message across, which is that I’m enjoying the thrill of the hunt and finding energy efficiency treasures: 

  • Let there be light. About 80% of Shaw’s indoor lighting has already been upgraded to more efficient fluorescent bulbs (T-8s for us environmental geeks) or CFLs (those squiggly lights for you non-environmental geeks). Together with my treasure seeking EDF partner, Eliza Davis, we found some buildings that had not upgraded their lighting. Also, when touring the residence halls, we found that each of the student desks – over 800 of them – had lights that could be upgraded to more efficient and cost effective lighting solutions. Voila! Treasure #1.
      Read More »
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Finding The Silver (Or Green) Lining After Disaster Strikes

By: Jen Weiss, 2011 Climate Corps Public Sector Fellow at Shaw University; MEM candidate at the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University

Photo Courtesy of Jen WeissClimate Corps Public Sector (CCPS) helps universities, governments and houses of worship identify ways to improve energy efficiency and save money.

My mother always told me that when adversity strikes, look for the silver lining.

The staff and students at Shaw University (Shaw) in downtown Raleigh have learned this lesson the hard way. Six weeks ago, Shaw was hit by a tornado. Classes were cancelled and students were sent home as Shaw administrators surveyed the damage to the historical buildings that date back to 1865.

Thanks to the dedication of its students, staff and the Raleigh community, the university cleared the debris, assessed the damage and started over in a remarkably short time frame. Today, summer classes are in session and despite the boarded up windows, blue-tarped rooftops, and damaged trees, Shaw University is definitely back in business!

But, wait … the story can’t end here – where is the silver lining? Read More »

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