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Taking aim at reducing peak energy consumption

Air conditioning systems in a number of campus buildings will be shut down on roughly 10 afternoons this summer, as Queen’s once again participates in an electricity peak demand management program.

[Queen's University]
As part of the electricity peak demand management program, air conditioning systems in a number of campus buildings at Queen's will be shut down on roughly 10 afternoons this summer.

The shutdowns will happen on days of peak provincial electricity demand during July, August and early September, normally between the hours of 2 and 8 pm.

“Queen’s joins many of Ontario’s large electricity users in reducing its energy consumption on peak demand days as part of its commitment to both financial and environmental sustainability,” says Caroline Davis, Vice-Principal (Finance and Administration). “This program will result in important savings on our utility bills while also helping to reduce the need for Ontario to purchase additional power or build new generation facilities to accommodate peak demand periods, which can have both financial and environmental costs.”

About 45 per cent of the university’s $11.5 million yearly electricity bill is a charge called the “global adjustment,” which was created in 2005 to offset the costs of renewable power generation and provide an incentive for large electricity users to cut their usage during provincial peaks. The global adjustment is calculated based on Queen’s share of the total provincial electricity demand during the five peak hours from the previous year.

Queen’s efforts in the summer of 2013 saved the university $500,000. In 2014, the program was expanded to include offsetting the university’s power consumption from the provincial electricity grid by utilizing the university’s cogeneration facility. This resulted in savings of more than $1 million.

This year the Athletics and Recreation Centre is going further with their “Greening the ARC” initiative, where in addition to participating in air conditioning shutdowns, they will also reduce energy consumption through turning off some non-essential lighting and drawing blinds.

During the shutdowns, building occupants will notice temperature increases, but where possible Physical Plant Services (PPS) will mitigate this effect by cooling buildings in advance. PPS will issue weekly notices to inform building occupants of the timing of the shutdowns.

“Health and safety remains a priority and PPS will monitor building temperatures during the shutdown periods,” says Caroline Davis, Vice-Principal (Finance and Administration). “They will also work with Event Services to minimize the effects on conferences being held on campus, and ensure that air conditioning systems remain active where there are classes scheduled.”

More information about the program, including which buildings will be affected, is available on the sustainability website. Anyone with questions about the program may contact FIXIT at ext. 77301, 613-533-6757 or by email.