EDITORIAL: WKU should push for energy savings year round, not just over summer

Sept. 20, 2011 Editorial Cartoon

Herald Staff

The Issue: WKU saved about $160,000 this summer after implementing reduced summer hours. The university cut off air conditioning around 2 p.m. (the hottest part of the day) in certain buildings, including Cherry Hall, to avoid energy spikes during those peak hours. Despite saving money, student workers, faculty and staff working in “sweat shop-like” conditions makes the Herald wonder if the savings were really worth it.

OUR STANCE: In the grand scheme of things, the $160,000 WKU saved pales in comparison to larger projects on campus — the $37.5 million spent on Smith Stadium renovations or the reported $22 million spent tearing down Colonial Court on Normal Street.

The Herald thinks that there are many other ways in which WKU could have cut back on energy usage and prevented staff from wearing ice packs around their necks inside, as was reported.

It all starts with proactively encouraging energy savings year-round. WKU stresses recycling around campus, but it’s really only over summer and winter breaks that we hear much about reducing energy use.

The university should encourage and educate students year-round to be energy efficient by not blasting their dorm air, and also by turning off their electronics and unplugging them when they’re not in use.

WKU does educate students through the Reduce Your Use contest between dorms. Each October residents learn how to save energy and recycle their trash with the winning dorm receiving ice cream as their prize. But why just do this one month? If WKU did this year-round or even more than one month, think of all the energy savings there could be.

There are other ways to save year-round, starting with lights that turn off via a timer. Certainly the lights left on overnight in academic buildings aren’t supposed to be that way.

And what about those automatic lights that we’ve all seen  around town that only turn on when someone walks passed them? WKU does have these in some buildings, but we’d like to see them everywhere before summer hours turn up the heat again.

Employees shouldn’t have to pay the price over the summer. As it was reported, some wore ice packs around their necks while at work, and others reached into their own pockets for personal fans to cool them off.

Some faculty went so far as to work from their homes over summer despite having an office on campus that should be fully equipped and cater to their needs.

Maybe some think an air-conditioned environment is a luxury or greedy, but who wants to work in a facility where sweating bullets is an everyday occurrence?

WKU, reevaluate the energy-usage policies and let employees work in a comfortable environment.

This editorial represents the majority opinion of the Herald’s 10-member editorial board.