Students Find Answers to Money Drain in Exits By Ken Keatley The student who organized a recent energy audit of the Homewood campus says there is big money to be saved in little exit signs. Those rectangular, green-tinted directional signs that abound throughout campus buildings are each powered by two 15-watt light bulbs. Audit organizer Eric Lee says that's too many watts. "If those light bulbs could be replaced by more energy efficient light-emitting diodes, the signs would have the same light intensity at only about 5 watts of power," said Lee, a junior and president of Students for Environmental Action. "And the university will save a lot of money." That recommendation is just one of many Lee and his nine fellow student audit participants will make in a report to be presented to the executive director of Facilities Management, Robert Schuerholz, possibly as early as this week. The audit of four Homewood buildings--New Engineering, Garland, Ames and Remsen--was conducted earlier this month under the guidance of Peregrine "Pepper" White, a 1979 Hopkins engineering graduate who runs an energy consulting firm in Massachusetts. After a morning orientation by White, the students split into groups and surveyed each of the buildings, compiling inventory data on lighting and office equipment. They then used the field data to calculate the number of kilowatt hours used each year, how much energy could be saved and the investment payback period if more efficient energy sources were implemented. Rick Eschenbach, the newly hired energy manager for facilities management, participated in the audit and conducted afternoon tours of the Homewood power plant. "The timing for this is great, since I hope to soon implement a conservation program," Eschenbach said. "It's great to see students want to be involved or concerned. Maybe this will lead to better awareness [of energy conservation] on campus." White said there "certainly are opportunities for improvement" in the Homewood buildings, but praised the recently renovated Remsen building for having state-of-the-art light fixtures and low wattage lamps. Most of the other buildings have standard fixtures and high wattage lamps. "On that basis alone, there is great potential for savings," added White. Lee hopes the exit sign idea and other audit recommendations, as well as the inventory data collected, will serve as a blueprint for Eschenbach and others to use in updating inefficient buildings. He said Syracuse University recently converted each of its 3,500 signs to light-emitting diodes. An article in the fall issue of the Syracuse alumni magazine states that the conversion should save Syracuse about $230,000 annually. "I think our report will show that the potential savings are enough for the university to justify hiring a consulting firm for a complete audit, and to invest the money to implement the changes," Lee said.
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