WMU nets $140,000-plus in energy savings during holiday closure

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Photo of University official lowering campus thermostats.

Van Der Kley lowers thermostats at the Campus Facilities command center.

KALAMAZOO—An eight-day winter recess at Western Michigan University came to an end Thursday, Jan. 2, with offices returning to normal business hours and the final tally of energy savings during the period estimated to come in at more than $140,000.

Using WMU's sophisticated building energy management system, more than 3,000 thermostats across the campus were dialed back to 55 degrees late in the day Dec. 24 with a single mouse click by Jan Van Der Kley, WMU vice president for business and finance. The setback affected 75 campus buildings and some 5,000 pieces of mechanical equipment.

"We need to be good stewards of the University's resources and a model for campus sustainability," said Van Der Kley as she dialed back temperatures campuswide from the University's Campus Facilities command center.

Lowering the building space temperatures from Dec. 24 to Jan. 2 was originally estimated to avoid spending $140,000 and saving 8 billion BTUs of energy, which is the equivalent to 430 metric tons of carbon dioxide. The temperature reduction was carefully planned to avoid impacting animal and research spaces on campus.