From: Division of Campus Planning, Infrastructure, and Facilities

Turning off non-critical lights, appliances, and electronics for just one hour can produce big energy savings – almost 5,000 kilowatts of reduced energy consumption, in fact.

On Thursday, June 24, from 1:45 to 3:15 p.m., the Blacksburg campus community will be asked to turn off and unplug all noncritical lighting and electrical loads in residence halls, classrooms, offices, and laboratories during the university’s annual Lights Out!/Power Down! event.

  • To conserve energy, community members will be asked to:
  • Turn off lights in offices, common areas, and hallways.
  • Turn off personal computers and peripherals not in use.
  • Turn off shared electronics (televisions, projectors, copiers, printers, fax machines, etc.) not in use.
  • Unplug appliances (coffee makers, refrigerators, washers/dryers, cooking equipment, etc.) not in use.
  • Turn off laboratory equipment not in use.

Throughout the day on June 24, Division of Campus Planning, Infrastructure, and Facilities employees will also be canvassing campus to encourage and assist building occupants with turning off non-critical lighting and equipment. In addition, air conditioning levels in select, noncritical areas will be reduced. Please note that ventilation and airflow rates will not be affected. Those impacted will be notified prior to the event.

Campus electric power consumption will be monitored before, during, and after the event to determine the impact of campus participation.

During last year’s event, Virginia Tech reduced its energy consumption by approximately 1,500 kilowatts and received approximately $47,000 for its participation in the demand response program. This year, the university will seek to reduce power consumption by 3,500 kilowatts during this exercise in order to receive an estimated $24,000.

Since 2010, Virginia Tech has received approximately $2 million by participating in the “Interruptible Load Reliability” energy reduction program. The program is part of Virginia Tech’s agreement with PJM Interconnection, Virginia’s regional electric transmission grid operator, and is managed by the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy and administered by CPower.

As a large consumer of electricity in the region, Virginia Tech’s participation helps mitigate the loss of power in the broader community during times of peak energy usage, such as hot, humid summer afternoons and early evenings. This program allows the university to test its ability to meet that demand should those conditions occur.

LightsOut!/PowerDown! is one example of how Virginia Tech is making strides in reducing its environmental footprint and building sustainability awareness. These efforts are also a clear reflection of Virginia Tech’s Climate Action Commitment.

Now in its 12th year, the Climate Action Commitment serves as a cornerstone for guiding the university toward a greener, more sustainable future. It touches on all aspects of university sustainability and energy efficiency, including campus operations, facilities, curriculum, and research. 

Enhancing the energy efficiency of university operations is a central theme throughout the 15 pathways prescribed by the commitment. For example, Virginia Tech will strive to achieve a carbon-neutral campus by 2030; achieve 100 percent renewable electricity by 2030; and reduce building energy consumption to enable carbon neutrality by 2030.

Questions around LightsOut!/PowerDown! may be directed to sdurfee@vt.edu.

Share this story