To Sleep, Perchance to Save

By Norma Butterworth-McKittrick

bulbJoseph Payne, manager in UAB's Department of Energy Management, knows exactly how the university can save half a million dollars per year. Now he just needs a few thousand willing hands to get it done.

"If all of the people using the estimated 20,000 computers and monitors on campus let their computers go into a low-power sleep mode during periods of inactivity and then turned them off after hours and on weekends, we estimate that UAB would save more than $500,000 in electricity annually—not to mention the additional savings in air-conditioning costs required to counteract the heat the equipment produces," Payne explains. "The electricity we saved could reduce our carbon dioxide footprint by 10 to 13 million pounds each year, which is equivalent to planting almost 2,000 acres of trees."

As a conservation measure, Payne's team has replaced most of the inefficient incandescent bulbs at UAB that are part of permanent lighting fixtures, but he estimates that thousands are still being used in desk lamps and other fixtures. "Each incandescent bulb replaced with a compact fluorescent bulb not only saves an estimated $30 in electricity per year, but it also eliminates the need to burn 110 pounds of coal and prevents 450 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions," says Payne.

His department is on the lookout for other ways to dramatically scale down energy use on the Southside. "We recently partnered with the School of Engineering to perform an occupancy analysis of campus buildings to determine classroom usage during the day and evening," Payne says. "We hope this will help us use buildings more efficiently by grouping classes and allowing some floors—or even entire buildings—to be shut down at night to reduce energy consumption and light pollution. We are also working with the School of Engineering on evaluating different reflective roofing materials to reduce heat gain within the buildings."