Archive for GreenCorps

Holiday Energy Saving Tips

Quick Tips from the LSC GreenCorps Desk:

The beginning of holiday travel season is here and for many people that means travel away from home.  With so much going on during the holidays, saving energy can be an afterthought, but by doing just a few things you can save energy while you’re away from home this holiday season.

Did you know that electronics left plugged in (even when not in use) can still draw power?  The easiest way to combat this is to remember to unplug those electronics before heading out or streamline the process and plug all these devices into a power strip.  You can check your own electronics’ energy use by borrowing a kill-a-watt meter from the LSC Library.

Lighting is one of the major sources of energy for any home.  If you are looking to upgrade to more efficient bulbs but are not sure which ones you need, check out The Right Light App.  This new tool allows you to find out which bulb you need by asking you several easy questions about your existing bulbs or outlets.  Also remember to turn lights off before you leave town!  You can keep a few bulbs on a timer if you don’t want to leave your residence completely dark.

If you are leaving town for the holidays you can reduce your thermostat to about 50 degrees without fear of pipes freezing.  Also making sure that curtains and blinds are drawn can help keep heat inside the house while you are gone.

For more long-term improvements you can contact Ecolibrium3 about the Duluth Energy Efficiency Program which can offer assistance with weatherization related home energy improvement projects.  They can help you decide what improvements you want to make and also help you find any relevant tax credits or subsidies.

By just following these simple tips you can save energy while you are out and about and reduce your energy bill at the same time!

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GreenCorps Update: Vending and Snack Misers Save Energy and Money

Chris has been busy over the last few weeks, designing and implementing an energy savings project focused on our 29 campus vending and snack machines.  This project is a refresh of one we started in 2009, but as machines get changed out and moved, the energy misers are sometimes disconnected or incorrectly installed. Chris’ task was to capture baseline energy use for cold vending and non-refrigerated snack machines, and figure out how to best utilize existing EnergyMisers to save energy and money.

Pay no attention to the man behind the vending machines

First, Chris used two Kill-O-Watt meters, which are available for check out in the LSC Library, to get his energy baseline.  For one week, he captured energy use per machine type (one for snack machines, one for a typical cold vending machine).   Then, he installed and reconnected existing EnergyMisers.  The EnergyMiser is a device with a motion sensor attached to it that can override the vending machine and switch it into a low power mode if it does not sense any motion for 15 minutes.  With misers attached, Chris used the same Kill-O-Watt meters to capture use data for connected machines.

The results are very encouraging.  The drink machine used 31% less energy with a miser attached and the snack machine used 51% less energy with a miser attached.  When these energy savings are translated into dollars (because we like math…and money), the impacts are far reaching.  Using a 6-month average electric rate for LSC (Jan-Jun 2017), Chris calculated the EnergyMiser savings.  He found a savings of $22.56 per snack machine per year and $80.40 per drink machine per year.  Extrapolated across the main campus, LSC’s 24 drink machines and 5 snack machines means the project will save $112.80 annually for the 5 snack machines and $1,929.60 for all 24 drink machines on campus!

Chris will be taking his project “on the road”, assessing the savings potential for the LSC Airport and ERTC campuses.  He is also looking at the energy savings potential for other appliances on campus.  Stay tuned!

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LSC Hosts a Minnesota GreenCorps Member for 2017-18

LSC is thrilled to be a Minnesota GreenCorps host site for the 2017-18 service year!  This is the 9th program year for the AmeriCorps affiliate program that is coordinated by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA).  The program is funded through grants from the federal CNCS, Serve Minnesota, and a combination of state and local in-kind resources.  The goals of MN GreenCorps are to help preserve and protect Minnesota’s environment while training a new generation of environmental professionals.  Not every applicant is chosen.  This year, of the 100 host site and 130 member applications, 40 members were place at 40 local governments, nonprofits, and educational institutions across the state.

The GreenCorps program members serve in 1 of the 7 focus areas: Energy Conservation, Green Transportation, Stormwater, Urban Forestry, Living Green, Local Foods, or Waste Prevention & Recycling.  LSC’s focus is Energy Conservation.

Chris Whaley is our GreenCorps member for the service year.  He will work closely with LSC’s Sustainability Council for 11 months, serving at least 1700 hours.  Chris is a 2013 UMD graduate where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Urban and Regional Studies.  At UMD, he also took classes in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) mapping.  These courses were his gateway to several sustainability focused classes and it sparked a lasting interest in this subject area.

The goal of his placement at LSC specifically is to focus on energy conservation  and implement both short and long term solutions to make the campus more energy efficient.  His first project will include looking at vending machines on campus to assess their energy use and savings potential.  One way we can save energy is through installation of  “vending misers”. These are motion sensors that are mounted to a vending machine and will power down the machine in cycles if the sensor detects no motion for 15 minutes.

A long term goal is to complete an assessment of the entire campus using “Kill-A-Watt” meters to identify redundant and inefficient appliances.  We will also work to better equip our campus users with information about best practices and energy use.  Chris will learn more about our B3 benchmarking and energy tracking efforts, using the data to drive changes and improve overall efficiency for all of our campus locations.  This has the potential for significant reduction in energy use, especially in the winter months.

These goals are not an exhaustive list and will most likely change and evolve throughout the course the year.  We will provide regular updates throughout the year.  Please feel free to drop Chris an email at with comments, concerns, or questions about any of our work plan goals!

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