Education, News, Office

Breaking bad energy habits at the University of New Mexico

Material difference: Since upgrading to LEDs and overhauling the HVAC system, the university's Center for High Technology Materials has slashed its energy bill. Next it's enlisting ping pong in the battle to go green. Ping pong?

Albuquerque, New Mexico is probably best known these days for the recent hit television series Breaking Bad. How fitting then that over at the city’s main university, they’re breaking bad energy habits.

And wouldn’t you know it, Lux readers: LED lighting has a lot to do with it. So does an overhaul of the heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) system.

It’s all happening at the University of New Mexico’s Center for High Technology Materials, or CHTM as it’s known in the Land of Enchantment (the state’s official nickname).

The centre had an ironic situation on its hands. While it’s known for breakthroughs in solar energy materials, nanofibres and other such environmentally friendly areas, it has also long been the university’s largest per square foot consumer of electricity.

So in early 2014 it decided to cut back by picking off the low-hanging fruit: installing automated HVAC controls for the first time, and upgrading to LED lighting in an office, a classroom and three conference rooms. It also brought in occupancy sensors.

‘Since the implementation, CHTM has reduced the total energy consumption by 21 per cent,’ the university’s newsroom wrote on its website.

And that’s just a start. The centre has plans to build out its HVAC controls far more extensively.

It’s also launching a ‘lights out’ initiative to remind students, staff and faculty to turn off the lights when they leave.

‘To kick off the campaign, the green committee hosts a ping pong tournament Thursday, March 19 at 3:30pm,’ the website reports.

Hmmm. Ping pong tournament. Will anyone bother?

‘The winners of the tournament receive new LED lighting fixtures installed in their work area or office space,’ the story notes.

Ladies and gentlemen, grab your paddle! Don’t have one? Never mind, just come with your Philips ‘SlimStyle’ LED bulb. As actor Lance Reddick from another TV series – The Wire would assure you, it would make a fine substitute.

Photo is from the University of New Mexico’s Center for High Technology Materials Facebook page