Campus utility expenses on the rise

By Brittany Liberatore
November 10, 2006

Dan Squire

Cabrini’s utility bills are on the rise, mainly due the new additions on campus including the creation of the Center for Science, Education and Technology, West Residence Hall and the new athletic turf field.

“Due to Cabrini College’s recent growth, as well as the recent increases in energy, the cost for utilities has increased dramatically over the past five years,” Howard Holden, director of facilities, said.

There was an immediate rise in the amount of energy used on campus when the SET Building was opened fall of 2005. Holden explained that the jump in energy that the SET Building caused is normal because of the nature of the building. Since this building is used for the sciences, air needs to be continuously passed through the building.

The next additions to campus that affected the energy usage were the unveilings of West Residence Hall at the beginning of this semester and the new athletic turf field following up later in the semester.

The utility expense for the last fiscal year for energy was approximately $1,210,000. This amount breaks down to $800,000 for electricity, $350,000 for natural gas and $60,000 for fuel oil.

“That amount of money is insane,” Jessica Jaxel, a sophomore elementary, special and early childhood education major, said.

However, after giving more thought to the amount of money that was spent on utilities last year, Jaxel said, “I guess that high amount can be somewhat expected because I know a lot of people that never turn off their computers or lights in their rooms.”

According to Holden, there are plans to cut the utility cost and save energy on campus.

“As buildings are built, they are created with the most up-to-date form of energy efficiency. West Residence Hall was built to be more energy efficient,” Holden said.

Over last summer, Holden, along with others from the facilities department, went through each room of Woodcrest and the houses on campus with plans to update the buildings to be more energy efficient. All the lights in these buildings were changed to florescent light bulbs and each building was modernized with a more efficient heating system.

According to Energy Star, fluorescent light bulbs use at least two-thirds less energy then incandescent bulbs to provide the same amount of light and last 10 times longer.

Another step in the process to cut utility expenses on campus is adding better insulation to campus buildings; Grace Hall was renovated with new insulation last summer.

Cabrini is in a process of an engineering study to help convert the entire campus over to high tension electricity. As of right now, the campus is on half high tension electricity and half standard distribution.

According to Holden, high tension electricity is delivered less expensively because it “arrives” at 13,200 volts. After the “arrival” of the electricity, Cabrini is responsible to “break it down” via transformers to the 120 volts the United States generally uses.

“Cabrini will need to invest in an updated distribution system to help provide these savings. The Cabrini administration is supportive,” Holden said.

To help save money, especially during the winter the months, dual fuel systems are used in two buildings on campus. Holden explained that dual fuel systems mean that both natural gas and oil can be burned in those systems. The college can choose to use whichever fuel is less expensive at the time.

“We have plans to bring another building on dual fuel soon. We will continue to examine other buildings’ potential as well. Some may not be as cost effective,” Holden said.

Holden encourages everyone to be conscientious when using electricity to help in the movement to cut cost and save electricity.

Sarah Norfolk, a junior graphic design major, turns off the lights in her room every night to save electricity. Norfolk said, “Even through we [students] are not directly paying for the utility bills, we should still conserve energy.”

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Brittany Liberatore

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