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The Heat is On

Winter's on its way and there are changes to the University's intersession energy savings plan. (Photo by Paul Miller) 

ALBANY, N.Y. (Oct. 27, 2016) — For the past eight years, the University has powered down during Intersession, turning off lights and heat in most buildings to save on energy costs.

This year, things will be a little different. All occupied buildings, including office buildings such as University Hall and faculty offices and labs as needed, will be heated to 68 degrees Fahrenheit weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Unoccupied buildings will be powered down to 55 degrees.

The change “will enable people to carry on their work during Intersession without disruption,” said James Van Voorst, vice president for finance and administration, adding that “the shutdown, although important, has disrupted the ability of the campus to meet the ongoing demand of its faculty, staff and students.”

Over the years, annual energy savings have averaged $217,000 a year for a total of more than $1.7 million, according to Indu, the University’s energy officer. While amount of energy saved has remained constant, the actual dollar amount of savings has fluctuated with utility rates, ranging from $306,000 to $140,000 a year, she said.

Indu said the energy plan started in part to cope with deep budget cuts. “We were looking for a way to cut down on utility costs in order to fund academic needs,” she said “This was a way to put $250,000 into the pockets of the University.”

The situation is different today. “With the growth in enrollment and research, it no longer makes sense to close so many buildings,” Indu said.

Or, as Joseph Brennan, vice president of communications and marketing put it: “We’re a major university. We don’t close.”

Changing technology makes it easier to zone heating and energy use in some buildings. The Massry Center for Business, for instance, can be heated room by room, Indu said, and for groups hosting events after office hours or on weekends, the Massry Center is a good choice.

Buildings that are unoccupied during the Intersession, which runs Dec. 21 to Jan 18, will be powered down, with no lights or hot water and the thermostat set to 55 degrees. This includes the four quad towers and unoccupied low-rises, and the lecture center and classrooms.

The main University Library will be open and heated weekdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and the Science Library will be open until 4 p.m. Occupied buildings on the Downtown Campus, including the Dewey Library, will follow the 8-4 weekday schedule.

Van Voorst said that office hours during Intersession will be 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., after which the heat will be turned down to 55 degrees. During the day, normal lighting will be available in offices and rooms controlled by occupants, but lighting in hallways, entryways and stairs will be reduced.

Indu noted that the energy savings plan is completely customizable. “There will be day-by-day, building-by-building exceptions, depending on use and need,” she said.

And she said the University will continue to realize significant savings in its energy — nearly two-thirds of the savings seen in previous years with larger campus power reductions.

To see the full intersession calendar, click here.

For more information on steps you can take to prepare for the intersession, click here.

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