Crazy Energy Wastage!

I’m not dogmatic about energy usage, but by and large it seems like a good idea to encourage efficient energy use and lower volume consumption in most cases. This is especially true during winter months. For example, if you want to heat a room, save money, and also save energy, it would be a good idea not to leave a window open during the winter months. Am I right? Does this sound like a crazy concept to you?

Well, if you were the facilities managers for the University of Michigan‘s Burton Memorial Tower, you might think this was a radical approach. Not many people have offices here, but there are enough that it should be a priority. After all, the University prides itself on being “green” (and blue), and the most recent sustainability report suggests that energy use is down! Nonetheless, the window in my office in the building is actually bolted in such a way that it is open an entire inch at the top! A temporary duct-tape fix has been tried for the past few years, but obviously this doesn’t work too well. It’s difficult to get one of those plastic barriers to attach because of the way that the blinds are attached to the window. The upshot of this situation is that when I came to the office today, there was literally a half-inch of snow on the inside of the window! When I stand near the window, I can feel the draft and also feel the little snowflakes blowing in! (See the photo above.) Now, this does not seem like energy efficiency to me. In fact, it seems like negligence. For unknown reasons, the University has decided not to replace the windows in the building for years despite faculty requests. I don’t expect a fix in the middle of this snowstorm we’re having, but I hope that attention is given to this problem in the near future! By a cursory glance at the energy usage statistics, screenshot at right, it is clear that steam use is up this year for every month. This suggests a possible action to me: adjust current windows correctly, and replace them as soon as it becomes feasible. (They still need to open during the summer for ventilation, but there should not be freely flowing indrafts in the middle of the season’s biggest blizzard yet!)

As you can see, the 2011 year-on-year use is up... and the windows are bolted open...


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