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June 29, 2018

Energy Conservation on Campus - 40 years ago

In the 1970s the university was dealing with the energy crisis as were individuals at home. Amid skyrocketing costs and shortages, the university imposed measures to conserve energy. Utilities costs rose dramatically. As reported in News & Views 11/1/1974, CWRU used less energy in 1973/74 than 1972/73. “Campus facilities (excluding housing) used nearly two million fewer kilowatts of electricity, cut use of steam by some 30 million pounds, and reduced gas consumption by about 31 thousand cubic feet. These are impressive figures--until you realize that the total cost for utilities was about $60,000 higher in fiscal ‘73-’74 than a year earlier despite these substantial cutbacks. This ironic situation is explained by the major increases in the cost of energy in all forms which hit consumers, including CWRU, throughout the first half of calendar 1974.”

Utility costs continued to rise throughout the 1970s and 1978 saw the university impose strict measures in the wake of a nationwide 16 week coal strike. During the winter of 1977-1978 blizzard conditions caused the university to be closed for 2 days, believed to be the first for a snow closure since 1950. The storm caused some broken windows,roof damage and ruptured pipes, but the overall damage was less than anticipated. The university was able to operate almost normally through the winter and the coal strike because the Medical Center Company had stockpiled a sufficient amount of coal to heat the campus. Supplies of electricity were more critical. The Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company unveiled a plan to reduce consumption by 20% for individuals and institutions. On 2/14/1978 CWRU issued its first statement about voluntary energy cutbacks in News & Views. Effective Wednesday, 2/15/1978:

“1. Lights will be turned off in all rooms having a window or windows between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.
2. All space heaters, radios and other electric devices not directly used in accomplishing work-related tasks will be turned off.
3. The University Bookstore will close at 5:00 p.m. instead of 6:00 p.m. weekdays.
4. University facilities will not be available to off-campus groups.”

Building monitors were assigned to each campus building to enforce the first 2 procedures. These were mandatory procedures that all employees were expected to comply with. In addition, some elevators were shut down and outdoor lighting cut back. The university realized approximately 18% savings from these measures by 3/9/1978. Ohio Governor James Rhodes requested all Ohioans conserve at least 25% of their normal electrical usage, leading the university to its second phase of energy reductions. According to News & Views (3/9/1978) these procedures went into effect Saturday, 3/11/1978:

“1. Libraries will begin operating with reduced hours. Specific hours will be announced next week.
2. The three campus gymnasia will be open daytime hours only.
3. Elevators in all dormitories (except high rise buildings) and many other buildings will be turned off.
4. Reductions in air handling equipment and lab hoods will be continued.
5. Lights will be turned off in most non-dormitory parking lots.
6. Non-work related electrical equipment, including coffee pots (underlined) and certain vending machines should be turned off.
7. Use of copy machines should be limited, whenever possible. Copy machines should be turned off when not in use.
8. Use of University auditoriums by off-campus groups will be canceled.”

The first phase of energy saving procedures remained in effect.

By late March the coal strike was settled. The 3/27/1978 issue of News & Views reported that CWRU did its part to reduce energy consumption during the latter 5 weeks of the strike. Use of electricity was reduced campus-wide by approximately 20-25 percent. Vice President Musselman thanked faculty, staff, and students for their cooperation during the emergency energy cutback. Musselman stated, “We learned some things during these cutbacks. We identified some areas of excessive use of electricity, where the cutbacks will become permanent parts of our ongoing conservation efforts....With the receipt of this notice Phase I and II mandatory cutbacks are cancelled. However, I want to emphasize again that conservation of energy has become a way of life and the University must continue to do its part to eliminate all excessive and unnecessary consumption of electricity. Everyone give a little thought to this fact of life, before automatically turning on lights and appliances that have been off, and perhaps not badly missed.”

All the elevators shut down during the crisis were restored to service.

05271D1-reduced.jpg
Medical Center Company air pollution control device installed at the power plant in 1978. It was referred to as the Bag House.

Posted by hxy2 at June 29, 2018 06:55 PM

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