As 2017 came to a close, Goshen College celebrated its lowest year of electrical consumption since 1991 — despite building space increasing by 60 percent — seeing a 23 percent reduction from 20 years ago and a 35 percent reduction from 10 years ago.
Reducing the energy consumption is an important goal at GC.
Glenn Gilbert, director of facilities at the college, explained how since 2005, when energy prices spiked following Hurricane Katrina, the college had been using an energy management system and had been more aggressive with scheduling.
“If you go into a room and it’s not scheduled to be heated or cooled, its not going to be heated or cooled,” Gilbert said. “If it’s only being used a third of the time, I’m only heating it a third of the time.”
Every building on campus also has its own mechanical system, which is controlled by the energy management system.
“We’re always looking at ways to relax a building and not use the mechanical system any harder than it needs to be,” Gilbert said.
In terms of what was significant in bringing the electrical consumption down this year, Gilbert was unsure at first. The thing that stood out to him the most was lighting conversions and the use of LEDs.
It helps that the decision-makers at GC value the long-term benefits from projects and initiatives.
“The college has always been willing to invest in conservation,” Gilbert said. “I’ve always appreciated that support from the administration.”
Gilbert and the rest of the staff at Goshen have daily conversations about how they can make the campus more efficient. But right now, they’re also recognizing the success of 2017.
“It’s nice to celebrate,” he said. “I think it’s important that we acknowledge when we do succeed. We have a commitment to sustainability, it’s part of our ethos, which is what we try to communicate and try to teach.”