How did your building do in York’s holiday Unplug campaign?

An effort by the York University community to conserve energy over the 2009 holiday break saw an average reduction of 5 per cent at the Keele campus compared with the 2008 holiday shutdown.

"The percentage of energy saved represents enough energy to power the Stedman Lecture Halls for one week," says Helen Psathas, York’s senior manager of environmental design & sustainability.

The data collected was obtained using York’s new energy consumption monitoring system. The new electronic meters were installed in buildings on the Keele campus, and the system is capable of monitoring electricity consumption building by building, rather than on a campus-wide basis.

Psathas says the real energy conservation winners are the occupants in those buildings that have shown a consistent and gradual downward trend over the past few months. These buildings are the Health, Nursing & Environmental Studies Building (HNES), the Behavioural Sciences Building and Central Square.

"Unplugging is one of the single most important things we should do every day. Turning off your lights and your computer should be like brushing your teeth or being mindful of what you eat," says Psathas. "While it may not feel like a grand gesture, if everyone takes these simple daily steps, the results can be profound. Consider the size of York University and the combined impact of these small gestures over time, and all of a sudden, small is not so small."

Unplug winners

The Scott Library reduced its energy consumption by a staggering 17 per cent over the holiday shutdown compared with the same period last year. Like other buildings on campus, the Scott Library has benefited from York’s Energy Management Program. The library has seen many changes and renovations over the past year that led the way to their energy savings.

York students got into the unplug spirit as well, with students living in Calumet Residence – the 2009 Res Race to Zero champion – once again leading the rest of the residences by reducing their consumption by 12 per cent against the previous year.

Other big losers (in the best sense of the word) include the East Office Building, which saw a 20 per cent decrease in energy consumption. The Accolade East Building experienced an eight per cent decline in energy consumption. Occupants in the Chemistry Building reduced their consumption by two per cent and HNES experienced a four per cent decline.

Buildings in need of improvement

Most in need of improvement and York’s official energy gainers were the Founders College Building, which was up 18 per cent; the Tait McKenzie Centre, which experienced a 17 per cent increase in its energy girth; the Vanier College Building, with a 17 per cent increase in consumption; and the West Office Building, which gained four per cent in its consumption.

The residence most in need of improvement was Tatham Hall, which saw a 10 per cent increase in energy consumption.

"You can now track your building’s energy consumption pattern on the new online energy map available on the Campus Services & Business Operations Web page," says Psathas. "York is closing out the third year of its Energy Management Program and the University is halfway to reaching its energy reduction goal. The next step to really reduce our consumption is for everyone to adopt some best practices, which means unplugging and switching off before leaving the office for the evening, weekend or vacation."

For more information, visit the Yorkwise Web site and look for the Unplug icon. For information on reducing your own carbon footprint, visit the Zerofootprint Web site, which offers a free and easy-to-use carbon footprint calculator.