University Sustainability

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2015 Battle of the Plug: Despite significant energy reduction efforts, Appalachian defeated by warm weather HVAC demand

Monday, April 20, 2015

Appalachian State University's Panhellenic Hall led the university with an 18.2 percent reduction in energy usage in the College Conservation Nationals (CCN) 2015 Battle of the Plug which concluded last week. Close behind was Mountaineer Hall at 14.4 percent reduction. "These are really impressive numbers," Jim Dees, sustainability data specialist at the university, said. " The students are to be congratulated for a great effort."

Nevertheless, five Appalachian residence halls reported increases in usage; two of which were significant. Whitehall and Cannon reported 90 percent and 39.7 percent increases, respectively. The increases were attributed to the energy demands of two heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) units that kicked in due to warmer temperatures and offset the students' negative-energy efforts. The units each serve several buildings.

"This is absolute confirmation that HVAC is a huge energy hog," Dees said. " And when temperatures are just high enough to cause the units to kick in, efficiencies are at their lowest. This was a great learning experience, " he continued. "Those chillers really put us under. We were leading by 18.4 percent one week into the competition, before the warm spell." 

Appalachian came in fifth out of five North Carolina institutions participating in the 2015 Battle of the Plug. The winner of the Battle was Elizabeth City University reporting a 9.3 percent reduction. The other participants competing against Appalachian were Western Carolina University (4.8 percent reduction), Meredith College (4.2 percent reduction) and University of North Carolina, Greensboro (1.9 percent reduction).

The five North Carolina institutions reported a reduction in energy usage of 46,287 kWh. Elizabeth City University reduced energy usage by 20,056 kWh; Appalachian recorded increased usage of 10,251 kWh.

The in-state competition is part of the CCN's larger contest that involves more than 150 schools. During a prescribed number of days, each institution measures which of its residence halls saves the greatest percentage of energy as well as how the percentage of energy reduction in participating buildings overall compares with the percentage of energy reduction at the rival institution.