California Colleges Up Energy Efficiency

How much money and energy could colleges save with simple efficiency measures? California student interns who took part in the state’s Green Campus Program wanted to find out–and in 2010, managed to save their institutions of higher learning $485,000 in energy bills.

At the University of California at Santa Cruz, Green Campus interns implemented a “Dining by Daylight” policy that got the overhead lights turned off in the dining hall when natural daylight was available, resulting in a savings of $12,000 a year. At Cal Polytechnic in Pomona, interns took on unnecessary lighting in a new campus parking garage, succeeding in getting unnecessary lamps removed and all lights turned off when the structure was unoccupied for an annual savings of $27,000.  (At a time when California’s publicly-funded colleges and universities are facing deep budget cuts, these numbers are no doubt helpful.)

Chabot College in Hayward, CA--SageGlass

image via SAGE Electrochromatics

“We’re showing the campus that we’re serious about our education and we’ll do what it takes to keep costs down,” said California State University Long Beach Intern Allie Bussjaeger. Long Beach, one of the Green Campus Program chapters in California, was formed recently along with California State University Fullerton; University of California, San Francisco; and UCLA, joining the rest of the established campuses in the University of California and California State University systems.

The Green Campus Program was developed by the Alliance to Save Energy and currently employs 75 interns each year over at 16 universities. Intern-led projects range from energy audits and assessments to residential and laboratory energy competitions, academic courses, green career fairs, and energy efficiency technology retrofits.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.