For one hour in June, Virginia Tech students and employees in Blacksburg will be asked to turn off and unplug all noncritical lighting and electrical loads in their residence halls, classrooms, offices, and laboratories.

That hour will come on June 26 from 2 to 3 p.m. when the university holds its annual Lights Out!/Power Down! event to test its ability to reduce energy usage upon request.

To conserve energy, community members will be asked to:

  • Turn off lights in offices, common areas, and hallways.
  • Turn off personal computers and peripherals not in use.
  • Turn off shared electronics (televisions, projectors, copiers, printers, fax machines, etc.) not in use.
  • Unplug appliances (coffee makers, refrigerators, washers/dryers, cooking equipment, etc.) not in use.
  • Turn off laboratory equipment not in use.

Throughout the day, Facilities Department employees will canvass campus to encourage and assist building occupants to turn off unnecessary lights and equipment and power down. In addition, air conditioning levels in select, noncritical areas will be reduced. Those impacted will be notified prior to the event.

Campus electric power consumption will be monitored before, during, and after the event to determine the impact of campus participation.

During last year’s event, Virginia Tech reduced its energy consumption by approximately 7,000 kilowatts and received approximately $240,000 for its participation. This year, the university will seek to reduce power consumption by 6,000 kilowatts in order to receive an estimated $278,000.

Since 2010, Virginia Tech has received more than $1.58 million by participating in the “Interruptible Load Reliability” energy reduction program. The program is part of Virginia Tech’s agreement with PJM Interconnection, Virginia’s regional electric transmission grid operator and is managed by the Virginia Department of Mining, Minerals, and Energy and administered by CPower Inc.

As a large consumer of electricity in the region, Virginia Tech’s participation helps mitigate the loss of power in the broader community during times of peak energy usage, such as hot, humid summer afternoons and early evenings. This program allows the university to test its ability to meet that demand should those conditions occur.

This initiative is also part of the Virginia Tech Climate Action Commitment first ratified in 2009 and reaffirmed in 2013. As expressed in the plan, Virginia Tech seeks to reach a 50 percent recycling rate by 2020, improve energy efficiency in campus buildings, achieve a minimum LEED rating of silver for all new construction, and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.