Save the energy, get eco-learned

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With the flip of a switch, an entire room can be illuminated.

What people tend to forget, however, is that all of these things require energy, which is more often than not squandered in homes, offices, residence halls, and other buildings.

Popular culture tends to depict Vermonters overall as a fairly enviornmentally conscious people. But not every student comes to UVM knowing how to curb their energy usage.

As a result, this year the UVM Eco-Reps have assembled a focus team to educate peers in all residence halls about simple practices that can greatly conserve energy just in time for Energy Awareness month in October.

To start, we shall examine the UVM campus exemplar in energy efficiency: The George D. Aiken Center.

The Aiken Center, the hub of the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, was renovated to reduce its ecological footprint, particular in areas of building materials, water use, and energy consumption and unveiled in January 2012.

Seventeen solar trackers follow the sun day-in and day-out to provide nearly 99,000 kilowatt-hours worth of power to the Aiken Center each year, according to AllEarth Renewables, who devised the trackers.

The solar energy reduces AikenÕs energy consumption to 25 kBTU (kilo-British Temperature Units) per square foot of the building per year; this number can possibly be offset to net-zero energy use with the introduction of more renewable energy sources powering the building in the future, according to Jeff Wakefield from University Communications.

Increased window sizes that allow for natural light, numerous sensors that control air conditioning, electricity use, and heat loss, are all methods that are applied in the Aiken building to increase its efficiency, Wakefield said.