156 Students and Staff Trim Energy Waste

finding waste

156 students and staff are trimming energy waste at UC Davis. 

At the 2017 Thank Goodness for Staff Event we unveiled our new program: Trim the Waste with Joules the Cow. The program is a 4 part series where students and staff learn about how energy is used on campus, and look for energy waste in their buildings. 

We received tons of fantastic responses, and found that many of them were informed by our Trim the Waste tutorials. Success!

Most of these impressive responses referenced air conditioning and comfort-related issues, the buildings' lights, and high energy use on weeknights or weekends. We kept track of some of our favorite answers:

Standout Responses

What do you think is a good indicator of energy waste in your building?

  • "The air conditioning is run constantly in the warmer months. Sometimes this seems a bit excessive, especially when I have to wear a sweater indoors, but it's 100 degrees outside."
  • "Number of windows left open overnight and number of lights left on overnight."
  • "There might be a good indication of energy waste if baseline consumption is still very high overall even if the data looks normal.


Addressing Your Responses

Let's go through the most common indicators (represented above) one by one, starting with the air conditioning constantly running when it's warm outside.

Is noticing that it's cold inside when it's hot outside a good indicator of energy waste?

Yes, and the best way to let us know is submitting feedback on TherMOOstat. With your votes, we can confirm that there's potential overcooling in warmer months. As you can see in the graph below, we get a majority cold and chilly votes from TherMOOstat when it's over 95°F outside and below 75°F inside.

Mostly cold and chilly votes when it's over 95°F outside and less than 75°F inside.

To address this, we're planning and piloting a new comfort band that will adjust the room temperatures based on the outside temperatures. The new comfort band will lighten the cooling loads of the buildings on hot days, and save energy by allowing the central chiller plant to work a little less hard.


Are lights left on a good indicator of energy waste? 

The short answer is yes, and we looked into this a little more to see how much electricity could be saved if all the lights were turned off. We found that in office buildings the lighting accounts for roughly 15% of the building's total electricity load, while in lab buildings the lighting accounts for only about 3% of the total electricity load.  

The lighting load in Ghausi accounts for 5% of the total electricity load.
The lighting load in Ghausi Hall, primarily a lab building, accounts for 5% of the total electricity load.

The lighting load in the Math Sciences building accounts for 19% of the total electricity load.
The lighting load in the Math Sciences building accounts for 19% of the total electricity load.


What does this mean?? If you turn your lights off at the end of the day, you'll have a bigger impact on trimming energy waste if you're in an office building. In lab buildings, it's important to turn the lights off when they're not in use, but it's equally important to do the same with lab equipment. 


Is a high baseline electricity load a good indicator of energy waste?

Absolutely. By using the Campus Energy Education Dashboard, 15 people pointed out high baseline electricity loads in their buildings.

One example that was pointed out in a Trim the Waste response from Maddy Lab mentioned, "There doesn't seem to be a drop in usage at night. The A/C should cut some usage later in the day, even if our larger instruments are still running." This trend is seen in the screenshot below, where a Trim the Waster noticed that the building was consistently using around 700kBtu/hr. 

Electricity load from Maddy Lab
The electricity demand for Maddy lab rarely drops below 700 kBtus/hr, even on weekends and at night.


Since we received so many comments about the buildings' electricity loads not going down at night or on weekends, we decided to look at all of the buildings mentioned in Trim the Waste. In the 11 buildings mentioned in the Trim the Waste program, we calculated the nighttime energy use was 80% of the peak daytime electricity use! This means that the building uses 80% of it's peak daytime electricity use at night!! After finding this percentage to be so high for so many buildings, we looked into other lab and classroom buildings on campus. The buildings mentioned in the Trim the Waste program were a mix of office and lab type buildings, but in our calculations we split up these building types.

  • On average, the office buildings use 68% of their peak daytime electricity use at night
  • Lab buildings use an average of 85% of their peak daytime electricity use at night.

These high percentages indicate energy waste during the nighttime hours, and have sparked investigative analysis in our office! Stay tuned as we strategize and collaborate with building occupants to battle this suspicious amount of waste.

Thanks for Trimming the Waste

Our team owes a big "Thank you" to those who completed Trim the Waste and gave valuable responses. Your involvement makes a real difference in pinpointing energy waste that would otherwise go unnoticed! 

Feel free to keep in touch with our team by emailing energyfeedback@ucdavis.edu, and to share Trim the Waste with a friend or two! We know the campus is filled with Energy Champions ready to make a difference in the places where they work and study.