Redesigning green education to save on energy costs

Student enthusiasm for “going green” is undeniable, but universities have struggled to harness that enthusiasm to yield tangible energy-saving returns.

Instead, conservation efforts typically suffer from a campaign mentality. Enthusiasm leads to short-term results while the educational campaign is in full swing, but as the campaign and enthusiasm wane, consumption returns to pre-campaign levels. Due to student turnover and the cyclical nature of the academic calendar, universities too often fight the same battle each year.

Letting Facilities lead education efforts

To better engage building occupants in a tactical dialogue around conservation, the University of Michigan houses its green educational effort "Planet Blue" within the Facilities department. This builds continuity and sustainability into all green education campaigns.

More importantly, this strategy leverages energy-savings techniques only facilities professionals would know.

Engineer-led building tours

The key element of Michigan’s initiative is the engineer-led building tour. Occupants typically do not understand how a commercial building behaves differently from their residential homes. Planet Blue engineers better educate faculty and staff through walking tours of buildings, focusing on building-specific energy systems.

Engineers also emphasize specific tactics to reduce personal consumption in an office space. Key questions engineers answer for faculty and staff include:

  • How should I set my thermostat?
  • What are motion detector power strips and how do I use them?
  • How are temperature and air flow settings established?
  • How do you monitor and operate this building remotely?
  • How expensive is the HVAC system?

More ways to instill efficiency and accountability in facilities operations

Although many institutions have invested in data capture technologies, few have succeeded in ensuring that these measures remain up-to-date and accurate. Read our full white paper to discover the benefits of benefits of maintaining a facilities dashboard and methods for building one at your institution. Download the white paper

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