How Many Biking Students Could Power Giedt Hall?

Giedt Hall, built 2007
Giedt Hall: classroom, built 2007

How Many Students Would it Take to Power Giedt Hall? 

Looking at energy use data in large buildings can be hard to grasp. We measure energy use in campus buildings in kBtu/yr, which is not a unit that most people use on a regular basis. How much energy, for instance, is 100 kBtu/yr? What about 1,000,000 kBtu/yr?

We looked at Giedt Hall's energy use and converted it to a unit that folks at UC Davis can relate to: biking. 

To convert Giedt’s energy use to biking energy, the first piece of data we need is the amount of energy Giedt Hall uses. According to our energy dashboard, the last year’s annual use totaled 1,165,500 kBtu/yr. 


annual usage


We found a study citing the average athletic college student cycling continuously can produce 100 watts of power. To get our annual energy use value into watts, we converted 1,165,500 kBtu/yr into an hourly demand value, and then into watts. 





Once we had a value in wattage, we could calculate how many students it would take to power Giedt with a simple division. (According to observational studies, an average college student can produce 100 watts of power while pedaling.)


calculation 2


We've arrived at the end of our calculations to find that 390 students biking continuously would keep Giedt Hall powered for one hour.


390 students


Now that you have an idea of how much energy a building uses, you can apply this understanding to the rest of campus buildings. Keep in mind that Giedt is a newer, and also LEED certified building, likely making it a more energy efficient classroom building than most other buildings on campus. Compare Giedt to other buildings on the dashboard to try and figure out how many students it would take to power a large lab building, or the entire campus!