UC Santa Barbara Pilots Program to Reduce Energy Consumption

UC Santa Barbara

Reducing Energy Use

The UC Santa Barbara Current, April 15, 2015

The University of California has set a goal of zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2025, and UC Santa Barbara has ramped up its sustainability efforts accordingly. The challenge, however, is to keep emissions down while the campus grows by 1 percent each year as projected in its Long Range Development Plan.

To help meet that challenge, four students at the campus’s Bren School of Environmental Science & Management developed a behavior-based pilot project designed to reduce energy consumption in three campus buildings: the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education (GGSE), the Social Sciences and Media Studies Building (SSMS) and Physical Sciences Building North (PSBN).

Prior to the rollout of the pilot program and again during it, the team conducted energy surveys and walkthroughs in three buildings. The before-and-after comparison showed increased energy-efficient behaviors in key areas such as turning lights off in unoccupied rooms, turning lights off in rooms with sufficient ambient light, using computer power-saving settings and not using space heaters.

The pilot project’s strategic messaging, which helped occupants understand their energy use, produced an average 4.5 percent reduction in overall energy use in the pilot buildings. The team measured these reductions in two ways: by comparing monthly energy use during the pilot program to a baseline calculated from the average of the prior two years energy use for that month; and by running a linear regression to account for factors such as daylight, temperature, weekends, holidays and breaks to model daily energy use in the buildings.

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