Monday, July 27, 2015

Just a few weeks ago, most of the UNC Energy Management office went to the Appalachian Energy Summit on the campus of Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. Over the course of the three day conference, representatives from UNC system schools, private schools in North Carolina, schools outside of the state, and businesses in the energy industry met to share best practices and technologies to help their institution save money and energy.  Also, attendees heard from leaders in the environmental and energy movements including Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Amory Lovins, and David Orr.

The summit was broken into working groups based on their field in order to better facilitate meaningful discussions. There was a group for officials in charge of transportation, one for campus energy managers, and even a group for incorporating sustainability into education. I joined the Student Leadership group which focused on the many job opportunities available to students in the energy industry.

The other students and I heard from the Futuristic Optimist, Francis Koster, who warned us about the dangers of Methane, a greenhouse gas he claimed was much worse than carbon dioxide. Then, we listened to and had a question and answer session with current workers in the energy industry from various consulting firms and a local lighting company. They reassured us that the energy industry is growing rapidly and that we can take whatever path we wish to find our niche and engage our interests.   

My biggest takeaway from the Summit is that since 2003, UNC system schools have saved over $900 million in energy costs. This is a testament to the importance of the energy efficiency projects that the various campuses have put into place over the past 12 years.

Before next year’s summit, participants will meet again at the midyear summit at UNC-Pembroke in February to update each other on their progress throughout the year as well as to survey UNCP’s work towards energy efficiency. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The 2014-2015 school year is over and that means the 2015-2016 school year is right around the corner. In order to prepare for their transition from high school to life at UNC, newly admitted students and their parents will be attending First-Year Orientation starting next week.

Of course, the usual departments (Carolina Dining Services, Study Abroad, the Marching Band, etc.) will all have tables at various information fairs. Energy Management will also be joining the fair in order to tell everyone about how we are saving energy and money for the university as well as easy ways that students can reduce their energy usages while in school.

So if you are lucky enough to be starting your journey at UNC this fall, come drop by our table and you could win some amazing prizes and pick up a few helpful energy conservation tips too.

Friday, April 17, 2015

No one really thinks about light bulbs until they burn out and you are sitting in the dark. This is seriously unfortunate since light sources require a significant amount of energy to run and can end up costing a lot of money. For example, this article in Carolina Country focuses on the best long term investments for light bulbs.

One of the most common light bulbs is a 60 watt incandescent bulb that generates almost more heat than light and has an expected lifespan of less than a year assuming 3 hours of use per day. After President George W. Bush signed the Energy Independence and Security Act in 2007, companies began to develop much more efficient bulbs in order to meet new federal standards. This eventually led to the widespread adoption of the compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) and light emitting diode (LED) bulbs.

A CFL bulb produces light when an electric current travels through mercury gas and argon, creates ultraviolet light, and excites a coating on the inside of the bulb. An LED bulb, on the other hand, emits light when an electric current is sent through a semiconductor. Either way, both of these methods are much less energy intensive than sending a current through a filament in an incandescent bulb.

Since these relatively newer technologies use less energy, one might expect that everyone will have replaced every fixture in their homes and businesses with either a CFL or LED bulb. In reality, such substitutions are not this simple. Similar to other energy efficient technologies, the new bulbs are more expensive up front and the savings are realized in the future. The following table about bulb costs by factoring in bulb price and electricity rates (assuming a $0.124/kWh charge) demonstrates this idea.

Bulb type1 year5 years10 years
borrowed from Alan C. Shedd and Carolina Country

As you can see, the LED and the CFL bulbs are significantly cheaper than the incandescent bulbs over a period as short as 5 years.

This, however, does not mean that you should instantly replace every incandescent bulb you can find. As long as the bulb is still working properly, there is no need to dispose of it. This would just be wasteful. Once the incandescent bulb runs out on its own, then you can choose your next appropriate bulb.

  • "Learn About CFLs." ENERGY STAR. Web. 17 Apr. 2015. <>. 
  • "Learn About LED Bulbs." ENERGY STAR. Web. 17 Apr. 2015. <>.
  • Shedd, Alan C. "Comparing the New Light Bulbs." Carolina Country. Carolina Country, 1 Mar. 2015. Web. 17 Apr. 2015. <>.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The cold weather finally seems to have left Chapel Hill and I think that is something that all of us can be happy about. Now that things have warmed up, it becomes very tempting to open your windows and let the nice spring breeze circulate. Although this may seem like a nice idea, letting in so much outside air can seriously affect the efficiency of your building's HVAC system.

As our website explains, air conditioning systems have to work overtime to dehumidify the air and pressurize buildings when windows or doors are unnecessarily left open. This quickly becomes a problem when people all across campus participate.

In fact, our buildings' heating and cooling systems are specifically designed to incorporate outside air when temperatures are appropriate in order to get rid of stagnant air. So do the right thing and keep your windows closed this spring no matter how nice the weather is outside. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

UNC Energy Management
Saving Energy For The Holidays 
  • Shut down desktop and laptop computers unless instructed    otherwise by IT or administrative staff. If your computer, speakers, phone charger, etc., are all on one power strip, turn off the power strip after shutting down your computer.

  • Unplug nonessential equipment such as copiers, fax machines, printers, scanners, and chargers. Most equipment draws electricity even when turned off.

  • Unplug all appliances, including coffee makers, microwaves, televisions, and radios. Like office equipment, many appliances use electricity even when turned off.

  • Turn off office lights and as much public lighting as possible in hallways, bathrooms, break rooms, and conference rooms.

  • Check windows to make sure they are tightly closed and locked.

  • Check faucets in bathrooms and break rooms to make sure they are completely turned off and not dripping.

  • Adjust thermostats to 65 degress or less.

  • If you work in a lab with variable air volume fume hoods, shut the sash completely (just as you should any time the hood is not in use).

  • Call in any leaks or maintenance issues to your Facilities Services team (962-3456 or

These tips will help keep your building safe and energy-efficient over the holidays.

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from Energy Management!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Where is everyone at Energy Management?!

Hello all,
On Tuesday morning, I walked into Energy Management's section of the Giles F. Horney Building, and I was immediately struck by an eerie silence. The office doors were shut, the lights were off, and no one was bustling about as usual. Where could everyone at Energy Management be?!
The other intern was a little puzzled as well, but after a few minutes of working, he said that he had figured out where everyone was: the Appalachian Energy Summit. According to our website and the University of North Carolina Energy Summit Collaborative Initiative ,UNC-Chapel Hill and many other University of North Carolina System schools have pledged to  both reduce their energy expenditures and make their campuses more sustainable. One of the ways that they work to achieve these goals is by meeting annually at the Appalachian Energy Summit.
Although today at the office was a little bit lonely, I think it's great that all of the people who are usually here are taking time to collaborate with their peers to help make our universities and our state more efficient and sustainable.
If you want to read more about the Appalachian Energy Summit, just follow the linked text above and poke around their website.
Until next time,

Office of University Sustainability. "Energy Summit." Sustain Appalachian. Appalachian State University, n.d. Web. 29 July 2014. <>.
UNC Energy Management. "UNC Commits to Collaborative Initiative." The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, n.d. Web. 29 July 2014. <>.
"Appalachian Energy Summit Signatory Commitment." Sustain Appalachian. n.d. PDF File. 29 July 2014. <>. 

Friday, July 11, 2014

EPA Energy Star National Building Competition 2014 Update

It's that time of year again!
Yesterday, EPA announced the beginning of the 2014 Energy Star National Building Competition and UNC has entered once again. Four buildings- Eddie Smith Field House , Bioinformatics Building , Rosenau Hall,and Henry Stadium - are in the running to reduce their energy expenditure by the highest percentage possible.
I'm excited to see the results of this competition because UNC has always done so well. UNC, in fact, has placed every year since this competition was established in 2010. Follow the progress of the competition on the Energy Star website and check out UNC's past victories on our website .
Also, keep checking this blog and our twitter for updates.

May the Odds be Ever in your Favor,

"EPA Launches the 2014 National Building Competition!" U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, n.d. Web. 11 July 2014.