Phone: 612-624-5551
24-hr number: 612-293-0831

Advanced Search

This is an archived story; this page is not actively maintained. Some or all of the links within or related to this story may no longer work.

For the latest University of Minnesota news, visit Discover.


A bright orange illustration of a light bulb.

"If every light on the campus was shut off one additional hour a day, we could save over $500,000 a year," says Mary Santori, assistant director of Energy Management, a unit within the U's Facilities Management.

Remember: turn off the lights

February 7, 2006

Energy conservation has been called the "least-cost" energy strategy, and for good reason. At the University of Minnesota, the simplest energy conservation measures--such as switching off a lamp in your office at the end of the day--could save the U millions of dollars in energy costs annually.

The U has more than 800 buildings across the state (or the same amount of space as 17,000 average homes), and approximately one third of its power usage is under discretionary control of the building occupants.

To encourage faculty, staff, and students to make small behavior changes that collectively will make a big difference, the U's Facilities Management (FM) has launched the "Turn it Off" campaign on the Twin Cities campus. FM wants to encourage the U community to turn off lights, computers, and other equipment when they're not needed; wear clothing in layers to be comfortable at various temperatures and to avoid resetting thermostats; change incandescent light bulbs to compact fluorescent lights where possible; and use energy-saving options on equipment, such as computers.

"If every light on the campus was shut off one additional hour a day, we could save over $500,000 a year," says Mary Santori, assistant director of Energy Management, a unit within FM.

To boost campaign efforts, FM is sponsoring a logo and slogan contest through March 1, 2006. University faculty, students, and staff are invited to design a logo and submit slogan ideas for use on campaign posters, stickers, and brochures.

Did you know?

FM is responsible for managing the University's $70 million annual energy budget and the electrical and steam distribution infrastructure required to light, heat and cool the facilities on the Twin Cities campus. The University produces 70 percent of its steam through burning natural gas and the remainder primarily by burning coal. The U is currently waiting approval of a permit to burn oat hulls--a form of biomass-that could save it between $3 million and $4.5 million a year.

"The efforts of the University community, combined with the projects Energy Management is implementing in many of the buildings, will have a significant impact on reducing energy usage," adds Santori. FM is also working with the Minnesota Public Interest and Research Group on campaign initiatives.

Little things mean a lot

*When you have control of your thermostat, adjust the heating set point to no greater than 68 degrees and cooling to no less than 76 degrees.

*Keep doors closed in air-conditioned and heated areas.

*Use automatic door switches for handicap use only.

*Avoid using elevators; take the stairs.

*Turn off the water while brushing your teeth.

*Shorten your shower by a minute or two and you'll save up to 150 gallons per month.

The University has been focused on energy conservation efforts for decades, and since 1994 it has actually decreased overall consumption. Specific energy conservation efforts have included: retrofitting the majority of the incandescent and other inefficient lighting systems on campus to fluorescent and other more efficient lighting systems, installing Direct Digital Control equipment for better heating and cooling control, scheduling equipment to turn off when a space is not in use, and testing and replacing faulty steam traps.

For logo and slogan contest rules, see energy conservation flyer. To submit new energy-saving ideas, e-mail

Campaign progress reports will be available on the Facilities Management Web site.