Monday, October 24, 2011

How green is Douglas College? Part 4: saving energy

By Tamara Letkeman, doug Editor

You’ve probably seen the green “Leaving? Turn the lights off!” stickers above light switches in the classrooms and offices around campus. This is but one small initiative Douglas has undertaken to encourage students and employees to help the College reduce its energy consumption.

Douglas also updated all the light fixtures in the renovated washrooms last year and installed occupancy sensors, so lights now turn off after the bathroom has been vacated for a certain amount of time, turning on again when someone walks in.

Louie Girotto, Manager of Facilities Services at Douglas, says several such projects have been undertaken at the New Westminster Campus to make it more energy-efficient. The campus – which is 30 years old – underwent a classroom lighting upgrade 18 years ago and the replacement of old fixtures with new ones is ongoing.

“We are currently upgrading the fixtures on the third- and fourth-floor corridors of the North building at New Westminster,” Louie says. “That’s why some corridors have got different lighting than others.”

The fixtures selected were (due to restricted ceiling space) wall-mounted and easy to service. They improve the lighting level and are both more efficient and visually appealing. The expected annual energy savings from each of the floor conversions is 12,000 kilowatt hours (kWh), which translates into $480 saved per year. The College also upgraded to more energy-efficient lights in the gymnasium. This upgrade is expected to provide an annual energy savings of 20,400 kWh ($816 per year) and reduce bulb replacements from annual to every five to six years.

“While the Coquitlam Campus, built in 1996, is using fairly efficient lighting fixtures by today’s standards,” says Louie, “halogen bulbs still needed replacing, and we’ve replaced 100 75W bulbs with 13W LED bulbs. This upgrade should result in an annual energy savings of 11,600 kWh, or $464 per year.”

As far as reducing the energy consumption of computers goes, the College has installed power management software that shuts down student and public machines – such as those found in the Library and in labs – outside of regular business hours, and allows monitors to go into sleep mode. The computers are shut down around 11pm and start up the next morning at 7am. Faculty and staff computers are on default power management, which means they go into sleep mode after a certain amount of time of inactivity. Network computers also go into sleep mode on their own.

As for printers, those in the public student areas print double-sided by default, which saves on paper consumption.

The College has also virtualized many of its servers, saving both on operating and capital costs. For years, as was recommended, a single application would run on a single server, which meant that many servers would sit “idling,” while their resources were not being used. Meanwhile, all of these servers had power supplies, CPUs and cooling fans drawing power. Now, the servers in the virtual environment share these things, which results in a much more cost- and energy-efficient arrangement.

“We’ve converted 63 physical servers and their respective power supplies and cooling fans to virtual servers and consolidated them on nine physical servers” says Kim Reeves, Acting Manager of Technology Services at Douglas. “There is less hardware to power, and users don’t notice a difference.”

Green tips

  • Turn it off: A computer left on 24 hours a day can increase your electricity bill by $75- $120 yearly. By putting the computer into standby mode, this amount is reduced to only $15 per year. 
  • Have an energy audit done on your home and retrofit it to make it energy-efficient. Many grants are available to finance this type of project. For more information, check out the federal government’s ecoENERGY Retrofit program. 
  • Unplug electronics: Many devices consume energy even when they’re turned off. 
  • Unplug chargers from the wall after powering up your devices, as they continue to draw electricity. 
  • Don’t print if you don’t have to, and try to avoid printing in colour. Colour inks and toner are more expensive. 
  • Use energy-efficient appliances. Check out Energy Star’s range of qualified equipment and products.


See our previous posts on the College's eco-friendly roof,  greening of the cafeteria and indoor air quality.