Lower the Thermostats
Middlebury’s heating remedy can easily be applied to the University of Puget Sound. Most Academic buildings and common areas like Collins Memorial Library and the Wheelock Student Center have central heating. Residential buildings also have a central heating system, but it works a bit differently. Each room has a thermostat that controls the room’s heat, but only between a certain range that is designated by a central source. The range tops out at about 74 degrees. Most buildings on the Puget Sound campus are set between 69 and 72 degrees. If Puget Sound were to implement a decrease in thermostat settings much like Middlebury did, we could drastically reduce our greenhouse emissions and save quite a bit of money doing so.
To “test-drive” such a plan, Puget Sound could reduce temperatures from the current setting to 67 or 68 degrees in Collins Library or reduce the range that students can manipulate their dorm room temperatures. If the high range was lowered to 70 degrees, the school could see major improvements in costs and greenhouse gas emissions.
It would be important to conduct a student and faculty survey concerning how much members of the Puget Sound community are willing to lower the temperatures. This should be done during the spring 2008 semester so any actual changes may be implemented the following school year. The results would be crucial in convincing the higher powers of Puget Sound to go forward with a plan that follows the goals of the President’s Climate Commitment. Perhaps we would even discover that the community would be enthusiastic about an even greater decrease than just several degrees. Perhaps students and faculty could be convinced to follow the suggestions of the Tacoma Public Utilities and decrease the temperature down to 65 degrees.
Geothermal Heating and Cooling System
During a length of time when school is not in session, the University of Puget Sound could install a ground water source geothermal system either in an on-campus house, or in a residence hall.
The benefits of installing the system in an on-campus house would be that the house could be metered and compared to the other houses on campus; the savings in terms of cost, energy, and carbon dioxide emissions could thereby be compared. This could provide a sampling of what the university would have in store should they decide to use geothermal heating in more buildings on campus. In addition, installing a system such as this in an on campus house could benefit the residential community surrounding Puget Sound because the on-campus house would provide an example for any party interested in learning about, or installing, a geothermal heating system.
The benefits of installing a geothermal system in a Puget Sound residence hall would also be beneficial to the university, although this time on a larger scale. Although initial costs of installing a geothermal heating system can be high, the savings in energy and cost over the years would ultimately decrease Puget Sound's carbon footprint and pay back the money spent on installation within a few years (as was the case with Hamilton College).