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Aug. 18, 2011
CONTACT: K.E. Schwab



SRU launches new pledge plan to save energy – go green        


SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – Slippery Rock University is turning off the lights – all in an effort to save energy costs, reduce energy consumption and further support ongoing, campus and community “greening” efforts.

           Beginning today the University’s Energy Conservation Committee launches an across campus awareness campaign designed to change faculty, staff and student behavior in regard to energy consumption.

           Robert Smith, SRU president, was the first to sign up under the “Small Steps. Big Payoff. SRU's Energy Action Campaign” banner, which asks supporters to commit to three of 10 listed energy saving steps.

           “I hope this campaign pays big rewards,” Smith said, adding, “The actual cost savings in terms of lower electric bills and heating costs can be very substantial on a campus our size. These savings are especially important as we face very tight budgets in the coming year. The steps we have already taken to help reduce energy consumption and the benefits we can derive from programs such as this demonstrate SRU’s commitment to the environment as well as to the financial bottom line. I hope everyone sees the benefits and signs on.”

The 10 energy saving options to select from are:

  • Turn out the lights and use natural daylight whenever possible;

·         Unplug chargers and appliances when not in use;

·         Power down computers for the night, weekend and during breaks;

·         Print less and only double sided;

·         Take shorter showers;

·         Take the stairs. Use the elevators only when necessary;

·         Run outside or on a track instead of on an electrical-powered treadmill;

·         Don't use the automatic entrance button to buildings unless it is necessary;

·         Encourage your friends and family to conserve energy;

·         Write in your own energy-saving pledge.

Sign up may be completed online at:

            “We are launching this effort as a multi-pronged program with a focus on changing behaviors related to energy usage,” said Julie Snow, associate professor of geography, geology and the environment and chair of the campus conservation committee. “We want to have the program in full swing when students, especially new students, arrive for the Aug. 29 start of fall classes.”

           The behavior changes tie directly to campus physical efforts to reduce energy consumption. Those efforts have included new, energy-efficient lighting in nearly every campus building, energy-efficient windows and computer-monitored, climate controllers that closely monitor outside weather conditions as a means of efficiently ensuring appropriate temperatures in classrooms and other on-campus facilities.

            Those signing the energy pledge are eligible for a green bracelet available at the University Union. Each week someone spotted wearing a bracelet will receive a prize, Snow said. “At the end of the semester, four grand prizes –$125 spring semester textbook stipends – will be given to students,” she said.

“Our goal is a 3 percent reduction in energy conservation across the campus community over the next year. Reducing energy usage by 3 percent would result in reducing energy costs by approximately $100,000 per year and reducing our green house gas emissions by 1,335 tons of carbon dioxide per year, which is equivalent to protecting 13 acres of old growth forest each year,” she said.

The President's Commission on Sustainability, Residence Life and the Center for Student Involvement and Leadership are co-sponsoring the campaign.

           In addition to this effort, the University has previously undertaken other energy-saving steps such as consolidating summer school classrooms in specific buildings, thus eliminating the need to cool other buildings during the summer heat. Motion detectors in residence hall hallways provide lighting on demand rather than continuous lighting, and water-conserving sink faucets and automatic flush toilets have been installed where feasible as a means of saving water – and energy.

For a number of years, SRU has incorporated energy efficiency and conservation into all of its on-campus construction and renovation projects.

           “The overall goal is to reduce – save – energy, while simultaneously reducing carbon emissions as we strive to meet the goals laid out when President Smith signed SRU onto the national President’s Climate Commitment,” Snow said.

            SRU joined the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment in 2009. At the time, Smith said, “Slippery Rock University is committed to helping lead the region in reducing global emissions of greenhouse gases, starting with our own campus. Slippery Rock University has long been a leader in modeling sustainability issues. Joining with presidents of other American colleges and universities is a natural step as we accept the challenge to become even more sustainable."

           The ACUPCC was launched in 2007 as a network of signatory schools, representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The program’s goals address global warming by garnering institutional commitments to neutralize greenhouse gas emissions and accelerate the research and educational efforts of higher education in an effort to equip society to re-stabilize the earth's climate. 

            The latest campus campaign to save further energy ties directly to SRU’s longstanding sustainability across campus efforts.

SRU was among the first universities in the nation to offer a master’s degree program in sustainable systems. That program has flourished and offers a number of ongoing demonstrations related to energy savings, including a wind turbine, straw-bale construction and a photo-voltaic array as part of its laboratory operations.

            Earlier this month, the program’s Harmony House, an energy-efficient classroom and office facility supporting sustainability education and research, was awarded LEED Silver Certification as part of a national program offered by the U.S. Green Building Council.

            The council chose the SRU faculty saying it recognizes design, construction operation and maintenance of high performance green buildings.

“This [certification] is a significant milestone for greening efforts at SRU, and we are hoping this project will provide a platform to expand our efforts campuswide,” said Thomas Reynolds, Macoskey Center director.
            The facility, opened in 1990, underwent extensive renovation last year to increase energy efficiency and expand educational opportunities. Undergraduate and graduate students study at the center and community residents attend workshops to learn about home sustainability methods.

The facility earned its LEED certification in the Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance category.
            The University’s strategic plan, “Reaching for 2025 and Beyond,” identifies sustainable design, resource utilization, energy conservation and awareness of environmental stewardship as priorities.

Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania’s premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.