Campus Detective


By Kris Cabulong
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, April 15, 2004

Question:

Why is it that many of the campus elevators have signs advising us to save energy by using the stairs, yet at night, many buildings have lights on in every window? Why doesn't the UA take a more active role in saving energy than merely putting up signs?

Melanie Skievaski, public health education junior

Answer:

Yep, the UA is one of those places that'll leave the light on for you. The problem is it's costing the UA millions of dollars a year.

But according to Sharon Kha, UA spokeswoman, these costs are "not paid for by tuition," so you can breathe a sigh of relief.

Those stickers advising you to "walk up one flight, go down two," are part of a plan to keep students physically fit and get rid of that "freshman 15."

Actually, it is part of an ongoing energy conservation campaign by Facilities Management that began three years ago, said Christopher Kopach, associate director of Facilities Management. In response to the $1 billion deficit in the Arizona state budget, then-Gov. Jane Dee Hull mandated that all state universities turn off their lights at night and turn their thermostats up a few more degrees.

So, they've got a plan. A plan to make it dark and hot.

But it goes even further than that. In the past decade, even since before the mandate and the sticker campaign, $2 million has been spent on retrofitting and on energy conservation. Facilities Management has spent nearly $5 million in the past few years on high-energy-efficient chilling units, Facilities Management Director Al Tarcola said.

So why are the lights left on in classrooms, despite the millions we've dropped on energy conservation? It's because people are using them, Kopach said.

"Classroom buildings (like the César E. Chávez and Modern Languages buildings) are running classes until 10 at night, minimum. We have custodial staff in these buildings that turn off the lights after class, and facilities staff cleaning until the early morning," Kopach said.

Yep, there you have it. Those little stickers are behind a much larger plan to save energy on campus. Case closed. Drive home safe, and remember to turn the lights off as you exit.

- Investigation by Detective Kris Cabulong catcalls@wildcat.arizona.edu