Nixon Leads Charge On UH Elec­tric Bill

MidWeek Islander (East Oahu) - - EAST OAHU ISLANDER / DECEMBER 15, 2010 / - By TERRI HEFNER

Hawaii Kai’s David Nixon is lead­ing the charge at UHManoa to lower elec­tric­ity us­age in Saun­ders Hall, and the Saun­ders En­ergy Chal­lenge is heat­ing up.

The on­go­ing com­pe­ti­tion among the build­ing’s seven floors is an ef­fort to cut en­ergy costs in the UH sys­tem, which is the sec­ond­largest user of elec­tric­ity in the state. UH-Manoa’s monthly elec­tric bill burns up more than $1.5 mil­lion of stu­dent tu­ition, and since the billing is cen­tral­ized, there’s no way of know­ing how much en­ergy each depart­ment is con­sum­ing.

“Be­cause each floor is a dis­tinct aca­demic depart­ment, most of the plan­ning for en­ergy sav­ings has oc­curred in staff meet­ings,” said Nixon, as­so­ci­ate pro­fes­sor, UH-Manoa Pub­lic Pol­icy Cen­ter and Pub­lic Ad­min­is­tra­tion Pro­gram.“Some floors used a ‘Kill-A-Watt’metering de­vice to check on the en­ergy they were us­ing for spe­cific pieces of equip­ment.

“I’m also aware of notes go­ing out to fac­ulty prior to week­ends and hol­i­days, en­cour­ag­ing staff to dou­blecheck that equip­ment has been turned off.” Nixon also has no­ticed sub­tle lit­tle changes in peo­ple be­cause they’ve been primed to be think­ing about it: turn­ing off the lights when leav­ing a the room, dou­ble-check­ing screen­saver set­tings, etc.

Nixon also di­rects the Sus­tain­able Saun­ders Ini­tia­tive, a pi­lot part­ner­ship since 2006 be­tween HECO and Elec­tric Power Re­search In­sti­tute of Palo Alto to doc­u­ment sav­ings based on a sta- tis­ti­cal model of base­line en­ergy use. Each Saun­ders floor mon­i­tors its en­ergy use in re­la­tion to other floors. Real-time and his­tor­i­cal data for each floor are listed on the web­site en­ergy.ancl.hawaii.edu.

In the first round of com­pe­ti­tion, which kicked off in Au­gust, the com­pet­ing floors showed 1,367 kWh in ener- gy sav­ings — the car­bon equiv­a­lent of 29 trees. In the sec­ond round (with fi­nan­cial in­cen­tives) they cut use by 65 per­cent.

The an­thro­pol­ogy depart­ment on the third floor saved the most and pock­eted $223 for the month­long ef­fort by staff and stu­dents. The prize rep­re­sents the value of the saved elec­tric­ity.

Uni­ver­sity of Hawaii pro

fes­sor David Nixon

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