SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - The Slippery Rock University Energy Conservation Commission has led the development of another cost and energy-saving program - "Flaunt Your Fleece Fridays."
Beginning Nov.1, thermostats in all University buildings, except the residence halls, will be turned down from 67 to 64 degrees on Fridays to reduce operating costs an estimated $10,000 a year, conserve energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, organizers said.
To accommodate the lower temperature, the campus community is encouraged to wear fleece on Fridays to keep warm.
While applicable to SRU buildings, the sustainability measure, like all of SRU's greening programs, attempts to advance a broader embrace of conservation.
"We will be educating people to start wearing fleece on Fridays in the hope that they will start to turn the heat down at home too," said Julie Snow, SRU professor of geography, geology and the environment and commission chair.
Snow said the heat will be dropped to 64 degrees beginning at 6 p.m. Thursday nights. Once reduced, the 64-degree temperature will be maintained until Monday.
Snow said just lowering the temperature a few degrees would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 123 metric tons of carbon dioxide. She said that is the equivalent of planting more than 400 trees or recycling an additional 57 tons of refuse.
SRU's Office of Sustainability is running a "friendly" competition to support the efforts to get people to "flaunt their fleece on Friday." People who post a picture of themselves or friends wearing fleece to the office's Facebook page will be eligible to win food coupons and stainless steel water bottles. To help individuals improve their fleece wardrobe, the bookstore will offer 10 percent off fleece products Nov. 1, 8 and 15.
The commission developed the idea because the University is maxed out on infrastructure changes such as replacing light bulbs and needs to focus on behavioral modifications, Snow said.
Even with the thermostat at 64 degrees, the set point temperature in buildings still exceeds the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration's standard for comfort.
The temperature adjustment is just one of many advances SRU has launched in recent years. The commission created a 2011 pledge program called "Small Steps. Big Payoff." The program asked campus constituents to take a simple pledge to help conserve energy by committing to three energy saving actions from a list of nine.
Other accomplishments spearheaded by the commission, Snow said, include altering summer teaching schedules to use buildings more effectively and meetings with Marcellus shale companies to learn about fracking.
SRU has made much progress in sustainability planning and implementation. The University has committed itself to becoming a carbon neutral institution by 2037, and recently installed a "green roof" atop the Jack C. Dinger Building adjacent to Morrow Field House.
Trend 5 of "Reaching for 2025 and Beyond," the University's long-range strategic plan, cites sustainability as an institutional priority. SRU is committed to producing graduates with the skills to excel in a world of diminishing resources.
SRU's has demonstrated greening leadership in building design, energy management, sustainable food practices, recycling, transportation and purchasing. The Princeton Review has included SRU in its "Guide to 286 Green Colleges" that have shown an above average commitment to sustainability. Sierra Magazine recently recognized SRU for its greening efforts as well.
The University has installed energy-saving lighting systems and uses computer monitoring for heating and air conditioning control in campus buildings. New display systems are being installed in campus residence halls that will allow students to closely monitor their hall's energy consumption, with an eye toward reducing energy use.
Most recently, SRU's selection to the 2013 Green Rating Honor Roll issued by The Princeton Review got the University included in an extensive "Thinking Green" report in Pittsburgh Magazine's September issue.
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.