Virginia Tech's Office of Energy and Sustainability is encouraging all students, faculty, and staff on the Blacksburg campus to participate in its “Lights Out!/Power Down!” event to be held on Thursday, June 20, from 3 to 4 p.m.

Community members will be asked to turn off and unplug, if appropriate, all non-critical lighting and electrical loads during the one-hour event to kick-off the university’s summer electrical demand management program.

What can people do to save energy? A few suggestions include

  • Turning off office, common areas, and hallway lights;
  • Turning off personal computers and peripherals not in use;
  • Turning off shared electronics (televisions, projectors, copiers, printers, fax machines, etc.) when not in use;
  • Unplugging appliances (coffee makers, refrigerators, washers/dryers, cooking equipment, etc.) when not in use; and
  • Turning off laboratory equipment not in use.

Throughout the day, Facilities Services employees will canvass buildings to encourage and assist building occupants to turn off and power down. In addition, Facilities Operations HVAC staff will be reducing air conditioning levels in select, non-critical areas. Those impacted will be notified prior to the event.

As a large consumer of electricity, Virginia Tech is enrolled in “Emergency Demand Response (Load Management)”, a peak demand response program that pays customers in exchange for a commitment to reduce electrical load in the event of an electrical grid emergency condition that could result in outages.

Such commitments by large electricity consumers help electrical utility companies to meet the peak electricity usage (demand, measured in kilowatts) that typically occurs during hot, humid summer afternoons and early evenings. Program participants must successfully demonstrate for one hour their ability to meet their load reduction commitment. “Lights Out! / Power Down!” will coincide with Virginia Tech’s scheduled demonstration test.

Because of the support and cooperation received from the university community during last year’s “Lights Out!/Power Down!", Virginia Tech successfully met and exceeded its reduction commitment level of 20,000 kilowatts, and as a result received payment of $136,121 for its participation. This summer’s reduction commitment level is 19,000 kilowatts; however, because of an increase in Virginia Tech’s AEP-calculated baseline from summer 2012, achieving it will result in approximately the same savings as last year.

This initiative is part of Virginia Tech’s larger commitment to reduce campus GHG emissions to 80 percent below 1990 emission level by 2050 as outlined in the Virginia Tech Climate Action Commitment Resolution and Sustainability Plan.

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.

Written by Carrie Norman.

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