Holiday Shutdown

The college’s experiment of shutting down non-essential buildings and services from Dec 25th to Jan 5th in order to cut costs and emissions was a success on a number of fronts, according the Zilkha Center. I spoke with Amy Johns, an environmental analyst on the team, about the project. “We’re very pleased with the results. The College saved roughly $90K in energy costs and about 1% of its annual carbon emissions.”

The College learned a few things from the shutdown. Amy summarized the biggest areas in which we can improve:
“This shutdown was done on fairly short notice. If Williams decides to do another, more notice would almost certainly make things run more smoothly.”
“Mail and package routing was definitely a challenge. To the best of our knowledge, everything ended up getting to the correct destinations, but it took a lot of work and patience.”
“Some of the newer buildings- like Morley – were designed to be very highly conditioned, and there’s no easy way to put them into a passive mode. There’s little or no dead zone between air conditioning and heating, so once the thermostats were set lower, the building went in to cooling mode – drawing in cold outside air and then reheating it, instead of just taking less steam from the heating plant. Facilities learned a lot about those buildings from this shut down, and are working on solutions to that issue.”
Monitoring energy use on campus during the shutdown gave the sustainability team more insight into the consumption patterns of different types of buildings. Most dorms nearly flatlined during the shutdown, which affirmed their assumption that most of the energy used in residential buildings goes into heating, light, and appliances.

Buildings like Jesup saw a much smaller reduction (about 18% less than normal), because essential services were still running- in this case the server room.

Overall, participation was excellent, and the savings from energy costs were nearly three times what was predicted. The Zilkha Center asked me to thank everyone who helped with the shutdown effort on their behalf. So a big thank you to everyone who took the time to pitch in, and faced the inconveniences. Your help was truly appreciated!
OIT’s role
As part of the shutdown, all of the classroom computers needed to be powered down and unplugged. A team of OIT employees made the rounds on Christmas Eve day to turn everything off, and came back early on Sunday the 4th to reboot and test all of the machines before people returned to campus. Out of 80 classrooms, only one computer failed to turn back on. The exercise has Media Services thinking about better ways to design classrooms to accommodate shutdowns- connecting them to a single power source that can be turned off via circuit breakers is being investigated.

Even though Jesup was closed, Desktop staff (Guy Randall and Josh Trivilino) continued to provide support from Hopkins Hall for those who needed to come in during the shutdown.

OIT staff

OIT’s shutdown strike force: Jim Lillie, Phil Remillard, Bruce Wheat, Jonathan Leamon, and Paul Smernoff.

For more information about sustainability at Williams, visit the sustainability website.

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