Students looking for free lightbulbs found them on the Diag yesterday, along with a celebration of University and Ann Arbor achievements in energy conservation.
Energy Fest 2003 also featured an awards ceremony during which the University received a 2002 Energy Star Combined Heat and Power Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The award honored the University’s Central Power Plant for implementing a combined heat and electricity system that generates electricity more than twice as efficiently as the standard power grid, said Christian Fellner, chemical engineer for the EPA.
“I am happy to recognize the University of Michigan as leading the way toward a more sustainable energy future,” he announced during the ceremony.
Energy Fest, now in its eighth year, “ties together all the concerns of different groups and organizations in one event,” said Terrence Rindler, an Engineering senior and employee of the University’s Utilities and Plant Operations who has coordinated Energy Fest for the past two years.
The Energy Star award, created in 2000, has previously been awarded to only three other universities: the College of New Jersey, Louisiana State University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Those universities achieved the EPA’s stringent energy standards required to receive the award.
The combined energy system is one of several EPA Energy Star conservation initiatives voluntarily implemented by Utilities and Plant Operations over the past eight years. Efforts such as the Green Lights Program, which replaced lighting across campus with more efficient lightbulbs over the past five years, save the University $9.7 million per year, said Richard Robben, director of Utilities and Plant Operations.
The University has already recouped its initial $10 million investment, he said. “It’s really been a big win.”
Of Energy Fest, Robben explained, “It’s all to raise awareness that we can all do a lot to save energy.” Utilities and Plant Operations has sponsored posters across campus encouraging students and employees to save energy by turning off lights and computers, such as the “Turn off the Juice” posters that appeared in residence halls this year.
Greg Keoleian, co-director of the Center for Sustainable Systems, a co-sponsor of Energy Fest, said increased fossil-fuel efficiency is important to domestic security in America. “We depend heavily on imports of fossil fuel,” he said. “(Efficiency) allows us to become more energy secure.”
Some students attending the event preferred to focus on less scientific aspects of Energy Fest. “I’m here for a free water bottle or lightbulb,” said Education student Jeff Nordine. He added that he heard about the event through a sustainable energy systems course he is taking.
Jared Westbrook, an SNRE senior, took a more serious view. “I think it’s very important for us individuals to conserve energy, but I’m also interested in upper-level infrastructure. I think that’s where a lot of change can take place, so I’m interested in what the University is doing.”
Some students, like Engineering sophomore Devan Ghandi, came to the event to take advantage of free bicycle registration offered by DPS.
Others clustered around the band, Oblivion, which was booked by event organizers to attract more students to the event. Oblivion introduced their set following the awards ceremony, announcing, “On behalf of the EPA, we are now going to rock.”