News

University saves $10,000 in air conditioning costs over holidays
Contact: Scott Maier, Senior Editor 381-3639
Posted: 01/26/2001
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Efforts by The University of Texas-Pan American Physical Plant energy team and the Department of Environmental Health and Safety (DEHS) resulted in an estimated $9,994.89 savings during the Christmas holiday break.

The cost reduction resulted from shutting down air conditioning in selected buildings.

Thanks to cost-cutting measures during the winter holidays, The University of Texas-Pan American was able to save nearly $10,000. Assisting in the effort were, from left, Tom Grabowski, communication assistant professor; David Ortega, energy manager; Richard Costello, Environmental Health and Safety director; Arnold Perez, utilities operations leader; Ruben Rodriguez, utilities station operator; and Arnold Mercado, lead air conditioning mechanic. Not pictured is Jeff Odale, utilities station operator.

Building supervisors and alternates were asked if they voluntarily could shut down air conditioning from Dec. 23-Jan. 1. Responses were tabulated, and building schedules were loaded into the University's automated energy management system (EMS) to enable and disable the air conditioning.

Prior to the shutdown, Richard Costello, Environmental Health and Safety director, was consulted to ensure shutting down the air conditioning would not result in any indoor air quality (IAQ) problems that could adversely affect UTPA. Monitoring was conducted throughout the course of the shutdown to ensure key IAQ parameters, such as humidity and temperature, were maintained within certain threshold levels.

To estimate the total savings, the cost for electrical consumption during the Christmas break was compared to the electrical consumption for the third week in December, the first full week without classes.

Due to a lack of instrumentation, the total savings estimate does not include the University Bookstore, the Academic and Administrative Annex, the General Classroom Computer Center Building, Environmental Health and Safety and Lamar. However, these facilities participated in the air conditioning shutdown.

The Physical Plant would like to thank everyone who participated, as this success would not have occurred without support from building supervisors.

Special recognition is given to Thomas Grabowski, communication assistant professor at the Communications Arts and Science Building, and Bonnie McNeely, assistant library director at the Learning Resource Center. Both demonstrated exceptional willingness to cooperate and a high degree of knowledge in their assigned facilities.

"We all need to think of ways to save on power consumption for the campus and at home, especially considering the energy crisis in California," McNeely said. "This is exactly what Gloria E. Cantu, health education coordinator at the Texas-Mexico Border Health Coordination Office, did. She is recognized for suggesting a scheduled shutdown of the Christmas lights."

The Physical Plant energy team and DEHS look forward to improving procedures and working with more people to save energy for the University while maintaining health, safety, operational integrity and comfort.

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