On Thursday June 25, the University of Virginia will participate in its 6th annual U.Va. Saves Hour as part of a statewide test to reduce electrical demand. From 2:00 – 3:00 P.M., U.Va. has agreed to reduce its electricity consumption by 12 megawatts. As part of the Demand Response Program, this effort is designed to help prevent electric grid emergencies during peak demand periods in the summer months. When the electric grid is approaching high demand, the Demand Response Program taps large state institutions, such as U.Va., to drop their electric grid loads in order to accommodate increased demands from across the region. This program helps curb electricity consumption and increases the electric grid’s reliability through high demand periods.
The Demand Response Program relies on both individual and large-scale actions in order to reduce U.Va.’s consumption by such a drastic amount. According to Ed Brooks, an Engineering Energy Technician for the Office for Sustainability, there is a list of necessary actions that must take place in order for U.Va. to meet its contracted load. The Main and Massie Road Heating Plants, along with the South Chiller Plant, will be completely off the electrical grid, and thus will transfer their loads to generators. At John Paul Jones Arena, Clark Hall, Wilsdorf Hall, the Medical Research Buildings, and Jordan Hall, normal power will still be in operation, but emergency loads will be transferred to generators. The domestic water storage levels of the Alderman Road Water Pumping Station – U.Va.’s main domestic water pumping station – will be evaluated, and pumping will be secured or reduced as necessary. Finally, members from the Facilities Management Operations Department will be dispatched to locate any building loads around Grounds that could be reduced, including air handlers and lighting that are serving currently unoccupied spaces.
Although these large-scale efforts will have the greatest contributions toward the University’s 12 megawatt reduction, individual actions will accumulate to form a substantial decrease in U.Va.’s consumption. All across Grounds, offices, departments, classrooms, and labs will be reducing their electric consumption as part of U.Va. Saves Hour. What can you do to help? Walk through your building to make sure that all unnecessary lights are switched off, especially in hallways, conference rooms, and other shared spaces. Switch off and unplug any nonessential items at or near your work space, including fans, lights, peripheral monitors, cell phone chargers, laptop chargers, digital photo frames, and printers. Turn off lights and open blinds to let in natural light. Dim your computer screen background and keyboard lighting. Share how you plan to reduce electricity consumption on U.Va. Sustainability’s Facebook page or Twitter (@sustainableuva) and you’ll receive a free reusable water bottle!