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    How the UTA community is conserving energy amid summer heat


    July 19, 2022 - The Shorthorn (University of Texas)

     

      As the sweltering heat takes over the state, many Texans find themselves increasing their electrical use. Like the temperatures, alerts for conserving energy are rising.

      The Electric Reliability Council of Texas’ most recent alert asked Texans to conserve energy from 2 to 9 p.m. due to expected strain on the power grid, according to a Trailblazer sent Wednesday. The high demand for power raises the risk of outages for UTA.

      The university has an energy management system that controls most buildings, said Jeff Johnson, maintenance operations and special projects director. The system allows temperatures to be monitored and modified for each building.

      If there are no classes taking place or it’s the weekend, then the cooling for that particular building is reduced, Johnson said. The lights in some buildings will turn off when not in use to lower energy consumption.

      However, some buildings like the residence halls have the thermostat controlled by students, he said. He recommends students dial down the air conditioner and keep their blinds shut.

      “We appreciate everybody helping us when we have to conserve this energy,” Johnson said. “It's a team effort, everybody has to do their own part.”

      Heating, cooling and powering air-handling units like fans take up the most energy, said Robb Chock, mechanical and energy operations director.

      The coolest places on campus are the research buildings like the W.A. Baker Chemistry Research Building, Chock said. This is because research labs are required to have outside air constantly cooled down and circulated through them.

      Johnson said some campus areas always have the lights 24/7 due to safety concerns, but most of them have been converted to LED lighting, which is more effective in saving energy. The lighting is found in high-traffic areas like the University Center, restrooms and labs.

      If nobody is in a room, people should make sure the lights are turned off, Chock said.

      Biology senior Eman Eltahir Ali said she conserves energy at home by turning off the lights when not in use and typically utilizes the sunlight during the day instead of electrical lights.

      Eltahir Ali said she worries about a potential blackout because a previous outage at her home left it hot. If the power cuts out as well as the Wi-Fi, her backup plan is to head to campus.

      If an outage occurs, then generators will support critical business-related functions, but air-conditioning will be limited to certain locations, according to the Trailblazer. Any work with sensitive data should be saved often.

      The temperature in buildings can usually be maintained for six hours during an outage, Johnson said.

      If a university building experiences a power outage or if the community has questions, the Office of Facilities Management can be reached at 817-272-2000.

      @MandyHuynh12

      news-editor.shorthorn@uta.edu

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