NOLS Rocky Mountain Gets Examined for Energy Efficiency

Posted by: Jack Fisher on Feb 18, 2013

For the past several months, the Environmental
Stewardship and Sustainability
department has coordinated a series of
efficiency audits across a number of NOLS facilities. The rigorous inspection process
is designed to locate and evaluate existing energy and water efficiency problems
with appliances, plumbing fixtures and the structures themselves. After the
inspection is complete, the data is compiled and organized to help identify
waste-reduction solutions.

DSC00802Lander’s NOLS Rocky Mountain (RM) completed the audit
process in January of 2013. Facts about the efficiency, age, and frequency of
use of every single device that plugs into an AC outlet was recorded and
entered into a spreadsheet. Every sink and shower was run and tested for flow
rate, in gallons per minute. Toilets were tested for leaks by introducing dye
to the tanks and observing seals and gaskets for seepage. Doors and windows
were inspected for insulation. Window frames were checked for cold drafts,
cracks, and visible gaps. Doors were checked for appropriate and functional
weather stripping and latching mechanisms. The insulation on certain exterior
walls was examined with an eye toward fill density, volume, material and age.

Fortunately, the solutions for these issues are often times
simple and inexpensive housekeeping repairs. If a door is drafty along the
bottom seam, a piece of weather stripping will seal it. If a toilet or faucet
is leaking or dripping, just tightening the fittings or sealing the threads
with silicon tape often stops the water waste. If a large, old and inefficient
appliance is only used, say, once a week, the wires can be configured so that
the plug can be removed from the wall when it is not in use, preventing “ghost
draw” (a term used to describe how appliances use power even when not turned
on).

This examination is far from the first energy and efficiency
project the school has implemented. Since 2006, NOLS has been moving towards
a goal
of a 30 percent reduction in the school’s carbon emissions by 2020. Up until now, NOLS Rocky Mountain has installed a waste oil heater in the
branch’s transportation department, a geothermal heating system, an extensive
solar panel array, and widespread use of LED lights and fluorescent bulbs- all
of which have proven to be effective.

The systems already in place have put NOLS well on its way
to reaching the 2020 objective, and efforts like this school-wide facility
audit are yet another push in the right direction.