Utility Use on Campus

IU's Central Heating Plant provides steam to the campus that is used to heat buildings and make hot water. The plant uses both coal and natural gas.

Hello.  My name is Nolan Hendon.  My internship duties fall under the broad rim of the label “Utilities Conservation Intern.”  Much of what this means is that I pass away hours staring at a screen filled past capacity with Excel Spreadsheets; parse through formulas determining years worth of  water, electric, condensate, and gas use for nearly all of the campus’s buildings; and copy and paste cell after cell to my own spreadsheets where I can analyze the data further.  All this is done with the aim of capturing what the school has saved in water and electricity since the inception of the IU Energy Challenge in 2006.  I was surprised to learn that no one had yet calculated such a figure, and even more surprised to learn what would be involved in computing it.  It would be relatively easy to determine the overall savings during the twenty-eight days of each Challenge since 2006, but our goal also involved capturing the savings during non-Energy Challenge months that may have been a result of behavioral changes learned during the Challenges.  Thus far, after looking at only at Academic Buildings, we have found huge savings in both water and electricity since the start of the Energy Challenge, both during and in between Challenges.  I am currently analyzing RPS (Residential Programs and Services) buildings to see if similar trends have been occurring there.

This data analysis, although crucial, is only half the battle.  What good is my work if the results stay mostly on my own hard drive?  This idea has been making me increasingly mindful to how much an understanding of the hierarchy of authority on IU’s campus could help me communicate my findings.  Like any large organization, wrapping one’s head around such a hierarchy can be a formidable task, but it could be a key factor in being able to communicate our results to the masses.

Realizing the great potential for collaboration, Bill Brown and Emilie Rex have given high priority to increasing communication and awareness between IUOS interns as well.  Our last weekly seminar was dedicated entirely towards so-called “pin-up” sessions, where each intern gave a quick two-minute briefing of their project, emphasizing current progress and areas where collaboration may be possible or necessary, with a few minutes of Q&A after each presentation.  The class was attended by both interns and mentors alike, and it ended with much success.  Although the two-minute cap on speaking time could be hard to be faithful to, questions and feedback from interns and mentors gave rise to many intriguing points, and we all left with a better understanding of our own internship positions and how they may relate to those of our peers.  Top that off with free pizza, and there is little room for debate as to the success of the day.


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