Your House vs. Campus

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Campus buildings use different energy resources in different amounts than you do in your home or apartment. With size and number of buildings on campus our energy costs were about $23 million dollars in 2015!  Does your energy bill reach the millions? Probably not.

What are some factors that contribute to this huge difference between how energy used on campus compared to how it’s used in your home or apartment?

scaling up


Scaling Up

Think how long it takes for your car to heat up, and the defroster to slowly but surely clear your windshield. Now think about how long it takes your house to heat up in the morning in the winter.  Now picture Shields Library, or Olson Hall, or Wellman. Not only are these buildings old, but they are many times larger than your house and car and therefore operate differently. For example, campus buildings use steam for heating and chilled water for cooling, in addition to electricity for lighting, fans and plug loads. Shields Library is just over 410,000 square feet, and uses 3.3 million kW hours of electricity a year. That's equivalent to the electricity used by about 16,500 California homes. 

Why Age Matters

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South Hall, 1957

Some buildings on campus are even older than they seem! South Hall was first built in 1912 for $35,032. Think single-paned windows, and definitely not state-of-the-art insulation.  The age of a building and the materials it was built from affect the building envelope (the physical separator between the interior and exterior of a building.)  The older a building, the worse the envelope, meaning heat will escape through single-paned windows, and cracks in doors, etc. 


How the Rooms are Used

Many campus buildings are much more energy intense spaces than typical homes, particularly buildings with laboratories because they require 24/7 ventilation. Due to the large variety of room uses on campus, we use much more energy than a normal home does, as most homes don't include laboratories or industrial kitchens. We also have a lot more lab space on campus than one might think.  For example, although you might think of Young Hall as a classroom building, it's actually: 10% classroom space, 41% lab space and 37% office space.  


Treat our campus like it's your home!

(We spend just about the same amount of time here anyway)

It's easier to take responsibility for your energy consumption when it's your house and your money.  When we get to work or school, however, we tend to feel better about cranking up the heater or leaving all the lights on. It’s important to keep in mind that energy waste still matters, even when you don’t see the energy bill at the end of the month. If you turn things off when you leave your house, think about doing the same when you can on campus. 

See signs of energy waste on campus? Let us know by sending us a quick note at