Since UT launched its ‘Switch Your Thinking’ campaign in September 2008, campus electricity use per square foot has decreased by approximately 7 percent. With this improvement, the university has cut more than 68,000 megawatt-hours in electricity usage equaling a cost avoidance of $5.2 million.
Thanks to these energy savings, UT has prevented the release of 48,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. This reduction in greenhouse gases is equal to the annual emissions from 9,400 passenger cars, the electricity use of 5,900 homes, or the burning of 260 railcars’ worth of coal.
“It’s exciting that the Switch Your Thinking campaign has been so successful,” said associate vice chancellor for Facilities Services Dave Irvin. “Saving energy is good for the environment, and it helps free up resources needed for other campus projects and programs.”
UT has realized energy savings through a variety of initiatives, including the 2008 Energy Conservation Policy that established temperature set points for campus buildings. The policy also specifies that the university will purchase energy efficient equipment, systems, and appliances whenever possible.
Employee and student involvement also has helped to increase UT’s energy savings. In October 2011, conservation efforts by university housing residents helped UT avoid more than $30,000 in utilities costs during the month-long Make Orange Green POWER Challenge.
“Energy use represents the single largest contributor to UT’s environmental footprint,” Irvin said. “Faculty, staff, and students can help make campus more sustainable by practicing conservation and reporting leaks or other waste to Facilities Services.”
For more energy-saving tips visit switch.utk.edu.
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