Friday January 18, 2013

RANDOLPH -- A yearlong effort to save electricity at Vermont Technical College by using special power strips, turning out lights in empty rooms, and other measures reduced power consumption about 5 percent and saved the school about $40,500 in electric bills, officials said Thursday.

The power savings was enough to power a laptop computer for 1,000 years.

Students also were encouraged to get energy efficient mini-refrigerators and there were competitions among dormitories to see which one could reduce the power consumption of their buildings the most.

The school Thursday highlighted the progress in saving power it had made at the main campus in Randolph and another in Williston. The project was funded with help from a $40,000 grant from IBM’s Vermont operation and a $4,900 grant from Efficiency Vermont.

"We had a lot of really interesting ideas that were coming in from, just like faculty and staff members who were requesting that we come into their offices and remove unnecessary light bulbs," said Littleton Tyler, Vermont Tech’s director of Institutional Research.

"There was a lot of interest in retrofitting bathrooms with motion sensors lights and a lot of ideas related to what people were seeing in front of them," said Tyler, who is also known as "data guy" and who helped measure the results.

Dozens of additional projects are in the works and officials are hoping the savings will continue.

Mary Powell, president of Vermont’s largest electric utility, Green Mountain Power, said, "This is what we see as the future in our partnerships with customers."

Green Mountain provides electricity to Vermont Tech and participated in the project.

Blaine Conner, 22, of Chelsea, a design student who plans to graduate later this year, said that knowing the school was working on the power-saving project made him focus more on saving energy.

"It was a great way for me as a student to know the school was looking at these issues," he said, and his personal effort was part an organized campaign to save energy.

The project was part of IBM’s 100th anniversary observance. Officials with IBM’s Vermont operation invested more than 900 hours to bring the technical and managerial skills to the project.

In addition, IBM collaborated with the Howard Center, Vermont’s largest human services organization, GMP and other groups.