Is it getting colder in here? A few degrees cooler campus-wide adds up to a more than a few savings — in more than a few ways

Brendan Kergin, News Editor  Ω

Some may have noticed a cooling trend sweeping through the buildings of TRU last Wednesday.

Feb. 9 has been dubbed Sweater Day by the World Wildlife Fund, and the TRU Environment and Sustainability Department got the school involved this year.

Temperatures in the larger buildings across the campus were turned down for the day by an average of one to three degrees.

“Most occupants said they didn’t really notice,” said James Gudjonson, TRU’s energy manager.

Even with the minor change there were some major energy savings in some of the buildings.

According to a release from Gudjonson many buildings had noticeable drops in heating costs. Notably there was the B.C. Centre for Open Learning, which was down nearly 40 per cent for energy use. The library and Clock Tower also reduced their energy consumption by nearly a third.

It’s estimated the school saved nearly 40 giga joules (GJ) of natural gas. Over a year the school hits an average of about 65,000 GJ. While 40 doesn’t seem like a huge reduction of the 65,000, it should be noted that the average household is usually just short of 100 GJ annually.

“There’s over 1 million square feet of area to heat,” said Gudjonson. “This is the size of six hundred and fifty 1700 square foot homes.”

With that much area to heat it equals about the same as 100 GJ per a home to heat the school.

It also notes that the reduction of 40 GJ equals about 2.76 tonnes of CO2.  The average student at TRU is probably producing around 20 tonnes a year.

TRUSU supports sweater day as well, with the goal to promote awareness of energy use in buildings. TRU SU Ecoclub was also supporting the event.

Gudjonson said there were two complaints about areas being cold, but other than that the day was successful. Some areas did cool down more than expected, getting just below 20 C. There is an organization which has guidelines for building heat, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers, which states buildings should be kept at a minimum of 20 C.

Gugjonson suggested the fluctuations from building to building had to do with building use and style.

“It was more a how long the building was open and some of the buildings have fairly sophisticated systems,” said Gudjonson. “What that means is, say the gymnasium for example, it will measure the CO2 in the building. So that means if there’s a lot of people in gym…it’ll keep exchanging the air accordingly and that air has to be heated.”

There will be more opportunities for participation in energy consumption awareness events in the near future, with the most notable probably being Earth Hour — the recent but fast-growing movement of turning off almost all electronics for an hour at night in April.

Gudjonson expects both the school and residences will participate in that event.