In 17. 5 Million Square Feet,Thermostat Tuning Matters
Burn coal, burn biomass, burn what you will — but the surest way toward shrinking your carbon emissions is figuring out a way to burn less.
For more than a year, Chris Martin and
his staff in UNC’s energy management
office have been combing the campus for
ways to save energy in UNC’s classrooms,
dorms, labs and office space. Building
energy consumption is responsible for 90
percent of the campus’s carbon footprint
(commuting activity is a distant second).
And if more reasons were needed, there’s
also a legislative mandate to cut back. A
2007 law requires that state buildings
reduce their consumption 30 percent from
2003 levels by 2015.
Faced with that new mandate, and
without new funds to do the job, Martin
and his team found that the most effective
and economical approach is to go after the
issue as your parents probably do: by fussing with the thermostat.
Of course, fussing with thermostats is a
little more complicated when they control
the temperature for some 17. 5 million
square feet. And a lot of behind-the-scenes
work had to happen first: making sure
heating and cooling systems are function-
ing as they should, for example, and that
buildings don’t have holes where they
shouldn’t — part of a process that Martin
calls “building tuning.”
Some types of buildings are harder to
tune than others. A research laboratory such
as the Mary Ellen Jones Building, which
houses a number of medical school depart-
ments, has a carbon footprint that is 10
times that of a classroom building such as
Peabody Hall (see www.climate.unc.edu/
GHGInventory/bldgfootprint). The biggest
reason why is in the air.
— Darv Johnson ’ 93
CAROLINA ALUMNI REVIEW