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1780 – The Official Blog of Transylvania University

Transylvania winter shutdown lessens cold-weather impact on utility bills, environment

Campus in winter

Transylvania University is going into hibernation mode for the holiday break.

The school’s winter shutdowns — which involve the closure of most offices until after New Year’s Day — have saved nearly a half-million dollars on utility bills in the past eight years. They also highlight Transylvania’s commitment to sustainability by reducing its environmental footprint.

“These efforts made by our community result in lower water, gas and electric consumption, resulting in significant savings,” Director of Facilities Management Danny Knox said.

The campuswide effort includes dialing back thermostats, unplugging everything and making sure lights are turned off.

The shutdown procedure can begin a few weeks before offices actually close, because some buildings have HVAC systems that can be programed in advance, Knox said.

Also early in the process, the Department of Facilities Management gets a list from residence life about where students who remain on campus will be spending the break so workers know which areas will be occupied. And when the other students leave, Transy staff make sure procedures have been completed on the residential side of campus — for instance, that the heat has been set to 55 degrees in buildings without the automatic controls, and blinds have been pulled down with the slats open to let in sunlight for natural heating.

Facilities staff also work with the school’s food service provider, Bon Appétit, on equipment idling, and after finals week they shut down the academic buildings.

Offices remain open a week after school ends, so before buildings close on Friday each staff member runs through a checklist with reminders like making sure refrigerators are unplugged.

During the break, maintenance staff monitor temperatures of campus facilities via a computer and a technician walks through the buildings each day, Knox said.

Not every building on campus is taking a long winter’s nap, though. Transylvania turns up the heat in Beck Center before basketball games — and students who remain on campus can control their own thermostats.

Offices reopen Jan. 2.