Short weeks not necessary for energy efficiency, officials say

While some colleges around the country have eliminated Friday classes in an effort to save on energy and commuter costs, the provost said he doubts cutting the extra day would have much of an impact on TCU’s energy costs.

Provost Nowell Donovan said if Friday classes were canceled there would still be a significant amount of energy use on campus. With the current construction, security and number of students living on campus, dropping Friday classes might not make a big difference, Donovan said.

Purvette Bryant, community relations manager at Brevard Community College in Cocoa, Fla., said BCC transitioned to a permanent four-day week last May and reaped numerous benefits.

Bryant said since cutting Friday classes BCC has saved $266,944 on energy costs.

“We have become a more efficient campus and staff sick days have been reduced by 50 percent due to the shorter week,” Bryant said.

Byrant said a survey showed 85 percent of 2,000 students on the BCC campus said the four-day week has been a positive change.

Donovan said that the idea was mentioned in the past by students that desired a longer weekend but not in regard to saving on electricity consumption.

George Bates, manager of electrical maintenance for TCU, said that energy conservation and reducing electrical costs has always been a campus priority.

Bates said motion detectors installed in classrooms and offices that automatically turn off the lights after a period of inactivity have helped the campus cut down on energy costs.

Bates said though cutting Friday classes sounds like a good idea, it doesn’t mean the campus would save 100 percent on electrical costs from that day.

Mark Bloom, assistant professor of science education, said he is doing his part to promote less drastic ways to conserve energy on campus. Bloom sends out “College of Education Goes Green” e-mails to the faculty and staff of the education department. The e-mails provide tips on energy conservation to faculty and staff, he said.

Bloom said there are other ways to save on energy besides turning off lights.

Bloom said it’s important to remember “vampire electronics” like cell phone chargers, computer monitors and other easy to forget electronics that need to be shut off or unplugged when not in use.

Students can do their part to help the campus save on energy as well, Bloom said.

“Walking to class instead of driving, printing on double-sided paper and using natural sunlight in dorms are all small things that can make a large impact if enough people commit to doing them,” Bloom said.