Cornell Launches Energy-Conservation Program

Cornell Launches Energy-Conservation Program

Cornell University has announced a new energy-conservation initiative aimed at cutting energy costs and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The initiative was organized by the university’s Cornell Kyoto Task Team, a committee of students, faculty, and staff formed last fall in response to student requests for a more aggressive energy-conservation policy. Cornell has committed to meeting the goals agreed upon at the 1997 Kyoto Climate Change Conference in Japan, which call for a 7% reduction in GHG emissions levels by 2010. The current U.S. administration has rejected the agreement, which was signed by President Bill Clinton but not ratified by the Senate.

Before the university closed down for the December 2001 holidays, mass e-mails and posters reminded faculty, staff, and students to turn off lights and electrical devices before going on vacation. The result was a reduction of more than 360,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity during the 10-day period, resulting in a $25,000 reduction in energy costs compared with the previous winter holiday.

“Our challenge, together with the Kyoto Now! students, is to encourage the campus community to reduce their energy use and to work with them to take existing systems and make them use less," said Lanny Joyce, Cornell's manager of engineering, planning and energy management, who heads the Kyoto Task Team.

Cornell has also fitted its hockey rink with new, adjustable lighting fixtures that allow for more energy-efficient use, and has initiated efforts to include solar panels in a future office remodeling project; students are exploring this technology for new residence halls. The university hopes for a subsidy to help pay for the purchase of solar panels.

Cornell’s vice president of administration and chief financial officer Harold D. Craft Jr. said the emissions-reduction target is a challenging one for the university, since it has has grown since 1990 and has a number of significant building projects under way.

“The campus community has submitted many energy conservation ideas and suggestions, several of which are now being acted on,” Craft said. He said two of the university’s mechanics are at work on a preventive maintenance and recommissioning program for Cornell’s heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems.

The university says other energy-saving measures are in the works:

  • Labeling light switches reminders to turn them off when not it use.

  • Persuading users to institute the "powersave" mode on their
    computers.

  • Adjusting vending machine power-saving controllers to minimize
    use of standby electric-power.

  • Modifying university design and construction standards to
    promote cost-effective energy conservation features in new
    construction.
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