University of Auckland cuts energy use by 2.5 million kWh

20 January 2009

Some of the simplest measures possible have resulted in The University of Auckland markedly reducing its energy usage since the government asked for mid-winter savings.

The University's weekly electricity use since then has averaged 8.4% below the forecasted rate (see PDF below for graph). This amounts to just under 2.5 million kWh of electricity saved, 560 tonnes less of CO2 and over $305,000 off the University’s power bill.

The University's Environmental Coordinator, Dr Lesley Stone, says some of the initiatives were obvious once they looked at usage patterns.

"For example, by looking at when people were in the General Library and Kate Edger Information Commons, staff were able to automatically shut off computers after hours, saving over 205,000 kWh of electricity and 48 tonnes of CO2," says Dr Stone.
Other initiatives included changes to cleaning hours, and encouraging students and staff to turn off unneeded equipment and lights.

"These are the sorts of savings we want to see become a natural part what we do at the university, rather than have people respond simply because of a crisis," says Dr Stone.

The University expected its 2008 energy use to be higher than 2007 because over 15,500 square metres of floor area were added when the new Owen G. Glenn building became fully operational.

"We not only achieved those reductions, we ended up using less energy than we did at the same time last year. This level of savings shows that we really can make a difference and keep it going," says Dr Stone.

The University is committed to reducing energy usage as part of its daily business and is exploring further options around computers, space utilisation and lighting.

"Worldwide, technology companies are recognising that hardware and software now need to have energy reduction built into them and that’s where the next level of savings will come from," says Dr Stone. "However, there’s also a lot that can still be achieved with a finger on a switch."

The University’s Energy Manager, Denis Agate, is particularly pleased about after hours savings. "They minimise impacts on staff and students, while extending the life of our buildings’ operating plants," he says.

The University will be rolling out a range of new energy saving initiatives during the 2009 academic year, including a campaign to involve students in halls of residence.

Electricity consumption at the University for 2007 and 2008 (PDF)