The University Record, December 5, 1995

Tailor dress to season to help conserve energy, save money

By Joanne Nesbit
News and Information Services

You might not gain points with French couturiers, but the environment will love you. Dressing appropriately from head to foot in accordance with outdoor temperatures can help University save energy and become more environmentally friendly, said James Christenson, director of plant operations, as part of the CampusEnvironmental Management Panel that recently met with Andy Duncan's Greening the Maize and Blue class in the School of Natural Resources and Environment (SNRE).

Christenson joined panel members Harrison Morton, SNRE associate dean; Douglas Fasing, manager of grounds and waste management services; and Jonathan Kazmierski, a student in SNRE. Stuart Batterman, associate professor in the School of Public Health, served as moderator. The panel discussed campus environmental management issues that ranged from paper consumption, grounds maintenance, energy conservation, recycling, mass transit, indoor air quality, asbestos, and what students, faculty, and staff can do to become better stewards of the campus environment.

Dressing appropriately for the seasons saves energy, which saves the U-M money, Christenson said. Wearing sweaters and jackets indoors means the comfort level can be maintained at lower temperatures in the buildings, which saves fuel and dollars.

Energy conservation lessens pollution. "Since 1973," Christenson said, "U-M has saved $78 million (in cost avoidance) or about seven trillion BTU's, enough energy to run a decent-sized house for 100,000 years."

Morton said recent renovations at the Dana Building will aid in conserving energy, citing new windows with double glazing that eliminate heat and cooling losses. Airlocks are being installed at both main entrances, which also will save energy during temperature extremes. While such efforts save energy, Morton said, they also add to the complexities of environmental management by raising questions of indoor air quality.

Indoor air quality standards have been dramatically raised recently, Christenson said. Studies indicate each person needs four times as much fresh air as previously thought. This means heating or cooling more air, making even more conservation necessary to meet environmental standards.

Using appropriate winter footwear may not win notice from top fashion designers, but it means less salt is necessary to make campus sidewalks passable during the snow and ice season. That salt ultimately works its way into the soil, causing damage to grass, shrubs, trees and other plantings. Eventually, substances used to clear sidewalks end up in streams and rivers, adding to the overload of chemicals playing havoc with water reserves and sources.

Not only do we need to take more responsibility for the space we occupy as an institution and as individuals, said Fasing, we need to "work smarter to get more bang for our buck." Answering a concern posed by a member of the audience regarding the cost of purchasing recycled goods under the VCM program, Fasing said we need to balance the additional cost of recycled goods with the cost of damage from mounting wastes. "If there is no market for recycled goods," he said, "then there is no reason to recycle."