Gettysburg Colleges consumes about 20 million kilowatt hours of energy every. This amount of consumption has been consistent in the last few years. Our consumption has been increasing and we are expected to be consuming about 21 million kilowatt hours in the near future. A kilowatt hour is equal to the power consumption of one thousand watts for one hour. In simpler terms, one kilowatt hour is equal to the amount of power needed to charge a phone for two hours a day for over a month.
The electrical energy consumption of the college has increased as the size of the campus increases. “Electric usage continues to go up just because any time we renovate a building you to renovate to the new, current code—which are good, they’re concentrating on air quality—but what that also means is that there’s a lot more electric demand,” said Rob Butch from the Facilities department (2019). Butch is in charge of budgeting and other financial decisions for the facilities department. He has been within this industry of facilities finances for the last 20 years.
In my interview with Butch at the Central Energy Plant on campus, he explained the balances facilities must maintain with energy usage, building codes, and energy demands. “Sometimes we see that the electric usage is going up and there’s not much we can do about it, because we have to keep everything up to code,” said Butch (2019).
However, the facilities department implements energy efficiency projects and installations to improve upon the energy consumption of the college. Butch explained that despite our increase in energy consumption, our overall usage per square foot stays relatively the same.
The college spent about $1,464,000 on electricity in the year 2018 (Butch 2019). The heating and cooling of buildings consumes the most amount of energy on campus. Lighting also consumes energy, and strides in energy-efficient lighting have reduced the electrical costs of lighting the college by nearly 50% (Butch 2019).
The Central Energy Plant deals with all of the heating and cooling of the campus. Because of this, the plant is the largest consumer of energy on campus. Boilers heat the campus in the winter and, chillers cool the campus in the summer. Check out the 360-video below for an inside look into the Central Energy Plant.
When I interviewed some Gettysburg students about their personal energy consumption, most did not know how to quantify their usage. One student, Jordan Fischetti, responded: “I don’t even know what that means. I’ve said before that I don’t understand how lights use energy because they just turn on, whatever” (2019). The disconnect from quantifying energy consumption most likely stems from the difficulty in understanding units of energy. Most people have no reason to know what exactly a watt is.
Most students responded affirmatively that they can be better in reducing their energy consumption. However, when asked about the overall student body’s incentive to reduce energy consumption, Gettysburg senior Catharine Arranz responded that, “a large majority of the campus does not make the effort to reduce energy consumption.”