Kill-A-Watt: A Campaign to Increase Energy Efficiency on the Columbia University Campus

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The Yale Climate Initiative

The concept of energy efficiency on a college campus is overwhelming. The more I read and learn about it, the more I discover that it is a much larger issue than we had initially thought. The pitfalls and obstacles involved in creating a comprehensive energy efficient campus are innumerable. The considerations and measurements that need to be known before one even begins to start to think about planning for energy efficiency on a large scale are significant. This has been my struggle to stay motivated when it seems like such an uphill battle. I have to remind myself to think step by step, and not be discouraged when my research and work seem to come full circle with nothing tangible to show for it.

Partially to motivate myself, I’ve been intensively researching other college campuses across the U.S. that are notable for their energy-efficiency related progress to see what they did, where they started, who was responsible for the change. In this research I stumbled across the Yale Climate Initiative, a student-run and initiated project committed to reducing Yale’s contribution to greenhouse gas emissions and increasing Yale’s energy efficiency. The nine students involved in the initiative attend the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, which itself uses energy only from renewable sources. The Initiative has been researching energy use at Yale over the past few years. In 2004, they presented the University with a detailed greenhouse gas emissions inventory based on 2002 data – the most recent available at the time. I have been reading a Working Paper of theirs from October 2005 (so, fairly recently) that reports on the results of the Initiative. Reading this was very exciting and motivating to me, even if their group consists of nine graduate students who have devoted all of their time to researching this project. I am currently trying to find a contact e-mail address from someone in their group or at their school – I have e-mailed an administrator at the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and asked if they could put me in contact with anyone from the YCI. What would be great about this if I successfully make contact with them is that I could easily hop on a train to New Haven and speak with someone from their group in person and see what they have been doing. Seeing what the YCI has accomplished could be great inspiration and provide us with more ideas for accomplishing our own goals.

Here is the YCI’s Working Paper I referred to:

as well as a Yale newspaper article about their project:

I was also poking around on the The Department of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy website (, and found: Energy Solutions for University Buildings. Here are some statistics about University energy use that I found on the site:

University Buildings
32% Space Heating
24% Water Heating
22% Lighting
05% Space Cooling
17% Other

Energy Usage Data
End Use
Consumption (TBtu)
Space Heating
Space Cooling
Water Heating
Office Equipment

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