Energy Utilization and Energy Efficiency Projects to Help IC Achieve Sustainability Goals

Posted by Michelle Jones at 8:42PM
Solar Photovoltaic

Ithaca College’s Climate Action Plan has put the campus on track to reach Carbon Neutrality by 2050. Right now the focus has been geared more toward energy efficiency, which is an important first step. However, Ithaca College should take advantage of the rebates currently offered for installing solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. Right now with the federal rebate the college would receive 30% off the installation price. NYSERDA is also offering incentives for PV solar installations.

A large scale “grid tied” solar energy system would jump start a movement toward renewable energy on campus, save money on electricity costs, educate more students and facility about the Climate Action Plan, and help the NYISO on hot sunny days when energy load climbs toward generator’s capacity. Implementing this system would also show our commitment to becoming carbon neutral.

Grid tied solar systems are designed so if your energy system is producing more than you need, the extra electricity is sold back to the utility company. If the system is not producing enough energy then the remainder is bought from the utility company.

Solar PV systems absorb photons of light from the sun and convert that energy into direct current (DC) electricity. With this system it would be necessary to include an inverter which converts DC to alternating current (AC). Most appliances and equipment in the US operate on alternating current, and the electricity grid is designed to transport AC power.

Patricia Santelli '12
Environmental Science
Energy Management Intern



Posted by Michelle Jones at 10:48AM
Turn off your Computer


Ithaca College is committed to becoming climate neutral and reducing our carbon footprint. In May 2007, the college committed to the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment. According to the Department of Energy, computing/office resources have become the 3rd largest energy user in office and academic buildings, behind heating and cooling.

In recent studies across Ithaca College’s campus:

·         approximately 50% of all CPU’s were on over night

·         over 90% of all monitors were on over night

·         over 70% of desktop printers were on over night

·         almost 100% of copiers and network printers were on over night

Some of the reasons given for leaving computers or other office equipment on have been:

·         I was told to leave it on to get updates.

·         It goes into sleep mode, doesn’t that save energy?

·         I forgot.

To assist Ithaca College in meeting its goal for carbon neutrality, computers and all affiliated office equipment should be turned off at the end of each work day.

Information Technology Systems here at the college, along with the Department of Energy is trying to bust some of the most common myths related to computer usage. Some of them are:

Myth: Turning off the computer is bad for it.

Truth: Computers are designed to handle 40,000 on/off cycles, many more cycles than the average user will need in the computers 3 – 5 year life span.

Myth: Turning off the computer uses more energy than leaving it on.

Truth: The power user to boot up a computer is less than the energy used by the unit when it remains left on for over 3 minutes.

Myth: Screen savers save energy.

Truth: Most screen savers do not save energy unless they actually power off the screen or the backlight on laptops.

Myth: Network connections are lost when a PC goes into low-power/sleep mode,

Truth: Computers are now designed to sleep on networks to prevent loss of data or connection.

Myth: A computer must be left on overnight to receive updates from the LAN.

Truth: Updates from the LAN will be downloaded to a computer each morning when the computer is turned on.

Some tips and tricks to save energy in your office:

·         Turn off all electronic devices including computers, monitors, scanners, printers, copiers at the end of each work day.

·         Only turn on equipment as it is needed, ie; paper shredders, desktop printers, speakers, etc. Then turn it off directly after use.

·         Only buy a monitor as large as you really need. A 19” monitor uses 40% more energy than a 17” monitor.

·         Use the department coffee pot, refrigerator, toaster, etc… instead of having your own.

·         Only plug in chargers for as long as it takes to charge the device, then unplug them. Don’t leave chargers plugged in when not charging.

·         Reduce redundant equipment in your office. If you have a plug in electric clock, use the clock on your computer.

·         Use day light whenever possible and leave the overhead lights off.

·         Replace incandescent bulbs with CFL’s.

·         Turn off computer equipment during lunch or prolonged meetings.

Why put so much emphasis on turning off computers? On average, leaving on your computer every night and on weekends places 3 pounds of sulfur dioxide and 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere per year. To reach our goal of carbon neutral, we must all work together to turn off equipment, when not needed.

Posted by Michelle Jones at 1:53PM
Compact Fluorescent Light Bulb

[Answers to the Energy Survey are below]

In the morning, only turn on what you need. Leave printers/speakers off until you need them, and turn them back off when you have completed the task.

Plug equipment into a smart power strip [one with an on/off switch]. Shut down your computer AND turn off the power strip at the end of the day. This ensures ancillary equipment such as speakers, monitors, scanners, and printers are OFF. Place the power strip where it is easily reachable.

Turn off your computer equipment during lunch or prolonged meetings.

Use overhead light or a task light, but NOT both. Take advantage of daylight when possible.

Turn off lights when leaving a room vacant, including conference rooms, rest rooms, break areas, etc.

Call facilities to replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents. LED lamps use even less energy.

Turn off room heating or ventilation [if your office has them] when you are not in your office. Keep your door closed if the room unit is running, so you are not heating/cooling hallways.

Dress in layers. Building temperatures are managed within standards. You may get hot or cold periodically. Add or remove layers as needed.

Use shades on windows. They reflect heat in the summer and keep heat inside in winter. Keep windows closed on hot humid days or cold heating days.

Do not block heat/ventilation ducts. Move boxes, furniture or stored equipment away from ducts to allow free air movement. If vents become dusty, report it so they can be cleaned.

Do not place heat producing equipment near thermostats.

Reduce the number of electrical devices in your office. Use non electrical staplers, pencil sharpeners, task lighting….

Do not leave chargers plugged in longer than necessary.

Ensure appliance/equipment is Energy Star rated.

Use cold water tap whenever using small amounts of water. Running the hot water tap for a short amount of time uses energy even if the water doesn’t get hot by the time you turn the tap off.

Don’t use portable electric space heaters.

Join a car pool. Avoid excessive idling. Use cruise control. Tune up your vehicle regularly.

Be an energy advocate! Discuss energy conservation with your peers.

Energy Survey Answers -



Posted by Michelle Jones at 9:30AM
Coal Burning Plant

[Answers posted next week on the Kill-A-Watt Blog] 

The U.S. is about 4% of the world’s population. What percentage of the world’s total annual energy does the U.S. consume?

a. 5% b. 10% c. 15% d. 25%

Which fuel is used to generate the most energy in the U.S.?

a. Coal b. Oil c. Natural Gas d. Nuclear

Scientists believe the fastest and most cost-effective way to address our energy needs is to:

a. Drill more oil wells

b. Build nuclear power plants

c. Develop more hydroelectric plants

d. Promote energy efficiency

Which gas contributes the most to global warming?

a. Methane

b. Carbon Dioxide

c. Hydrogen

d. Sulfur Dioxide

Which places more carbon dioxide emissions in the air?

a. Electrical generation industry

b. Transportation industry

c. Computer industry

d. Manufacturing

On average, leaving on your computer every night and on weekends places the following emission into the atmosphere:

a. 1/3 pound sulfur dioxide and 2 pounds of carbon dioxide

b. ½ pound sulfur dioxide and 5 pounds of carbon dioxide

c. 1 pound of sulfur dioxide and 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide

d. 3 pounds of sulfur dioxide and 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide

How much money can be saved per year by turning off your computer, monitor and printer every night and on weekends?

a. $5. or less

b. $25.

c. $50.

d. $75. or more

Turning off lights when leaving a room is:

a. Not a good idea because it shortens the bulb life

b. Not a good idea because it uses more energy to turn them on than to leave them on

c. Not my responsibility

d. A great way to save energy

When a computer is turned off:

a. The computer itself is still partially powered and using energy

b. The monitor attached to it continues to use energy

c. The speakers and other devices connected to it continue to use energy

d. All of the above

What percentage of time do computers and other office equipment idle per day?

a. Up to 15%

b. Up to 45%

c. Up to 65%

d. Up to 90%

We are launching an Energy Awareness Campaign; please pick your favorite campaign name:

a. Turn It Off

b. Power Down

c. Kill-A-Watt

d. Reduce the Juice

e. Other _________

Send your suggestion for campaign name to

Posted by Michelle Jones at 5:57PM
Carbon Footprint

While we here at Ithaca College spend a great deal of time pursuing a smaller carbon footprint, the ways we go about accomplishing that goal are vast and varied. Today, rather than taking a look forward, I want to share a glimpse of the fairly recent past. The Office of Facilities has six departments and each has made significant contributions to energy conservation, greening our campus, resource management, sustainable design and construction, conscientious purchasing, efficient operations, and performance measurement.


Lighting retrofits to reduce wattage - Gannett Hall, Towers Dining, Terrace Dining, Fitness Center, Outdoor Lighting, Job Hall, Park Hall

Numerous Variable Speed Drive installations to reduce electric demand

New energy efficient oven in campus bakery

Window curtains to reduce temperature losses in walk-in refrigerators/coolers

Auto closers installed on all walk-in refrigerator doors

Campus-wide heating/cooling standards [temperature]

Raised chilled water and condenser water temperatures

Installed low-flow water saving nozzles on kitchen spray hoses

Installed push button timers in Phillips Hall

Installed energy efficient motors

Better scheduling of equipment run-times

Installed reduced flush on toilets where possible

Sub Metering/Building

Energy Audits/Building

Facilities Services

Using microfiber mop heads and cleaning clothes to reduce water consumption

Reduced number of fleet vehicles

Purchasing from local manufacturers/producers [SCA, Rochester Midland]

Specifying EPA standards [minimal water usage] for cleaning equipment

Using 1 green chemical cleaning product

Utilizing Ionic Cleaning Systems

Sustainability Programs Coordination

Grounds and Transportation

Bio-Diesel Demonstration

Decreased number of rental vehicles

Instituted no idle program

Specified and purchased vehicles with higher fuel efficiency [> 30 MPG]

Replaced annual plantings at flagpole and front entrance with perennial [xeric] planting

Tested slow growing grass variety at Peggy Ryan Williams Center

Develop/maintain native gardens

Continuously evaluate opportunities for no mow locations [plant groundcovers, shrubs, natives]

Sourcing majority of plants from local nurseries

Planning/Design and Construction

LEED Building Construction – Peggy Ryan Williams Center, Park Center for Business, Athletic and Events Center, Job Hall Classroom Concourse

Established construction standards to LEED Silver

Energy Star status for several older buildings

Artificial turf for Athletics and Events Center


Proactive recycling/reuse policies for furniture purchasing

Considering supplier sustainability in our purchasing decisions

Investment Recovery policies for scrapped materials

Energy Management

On-boarding an Energy Manager

Tracking Building Performance Measurement

Coordinating energy efficiency projects

Performing after-hour office energy audits

Educating student, faculty, staff on behavioral changes to impact energy usage reduction

Coordinating equipment inventory and calculating energy usage

Benchmarking high energy user on campus: Dining Services, Computer Labs, Science Labs; etc.

Monitor building performance

Recommend operating/PM improvements


On-going efforts to make even greater strides toward energy conservation/efficiency will lead to greater emission reductions. Share what you have done in your area on campus or off to reduce energy consumption. Do you turn off your computers after hours, do you use less water, have you turned down your thermostat and wear a sweater? Let us know what you have done!


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