Energy Management

ECU Celebrates 13th Annual Green Holiday

What is a Green Holiday?

A Green Holiday is an observed extended break that serves to boost employee morale by providing a well-deserved break, as well as reducing campus utility consumption through minimizing heating, cooling, and electrical loads during the holiday.

The University Winter Break schedule for December 2023 provides for an extended period of 24 days when most students and faculty will not be on campus: December 15 through January 7.  During this time, the University will shut down buildings and operations in most residence halls and academic buildings.  Starting on December 21 at 5pm, the University will shut down most other buildings and operations for the 11 days when staff will not be on campus either.  You can visit the University holiday website to view the schedule:

When leaving for break, occupants are asked to turn off and reduce electrical loads as much as possible.  In addition, certain building temperature set points will be reduced to further extend the conservation opportunities (campus research labs, occupied support spaces, and patient care areas will be scheduled to coincide with operations over the break).  As a result of everyone’s combined efforts, the University conserves both electricity and natural gas; thereby helping the University reach its required 40% energy reduction by 2025 and reduce the associated greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as well as net impact on the environment.

Those who choose to be on campus during the break can expect to find many buildings with decreased lighting and cooler temperatures.  In accordance with the defined holiday schedule, buildings will not be returned to normal occupied conditions until the end of the break.

End of Classes Fall 2023 – Main Campus Schedule:

Residence Halls and Classroom Buildings will be setback 5pm to 7am starting Friday, December 15, 2023, through Thursday, December 21 then shutdown Friday, December 22 through Monday, January 1, and setback 5pm to 7am again Tuesday, January 2 through Sunday, January 7, 2024.

ECU Buildings Setback and Shutdown Schedule

Please call the Main Campus Facilities Service Center if you have any questions:  252-328-6776

Main Campus Green Holiday Schedule:

Main Campus will be closed and buildings will be setback or shutdown Friday, December 22, 2023, through Monday, January 1, 2024

ECU Buildings Setback and Shutdown Schedule

Please call the Main Campus Facilities Service Center if you have any questions:  252-328-6776

Health Science Campus Green Holiday Schedule (Clinic Schedule):

Health Science Campus will be closed Friday, December 22, 2023, through Monday, January 1, 2024.

ECU Clinics and Research Operations in certain buildings may be open throughout the holiday break.

ECU Buildings Setback and Shutdown Schedule

Please call the Health Science Campus Facilities Service Center if you have any questions:  252-744-2251

How you can participate in the 2023 Green Holiday:

  • Close all exterior doors and windows.
  • Turn off copiers, computers, lights, and anything else you see
  • Shut down non-essential lab equipment, close fume hoods, etc.
  • Unplug all non-essential electronics including coffee pots, chargers, microwaves, printers, copiers, computers, radios, etc.

Eco-friendly Gift Ideas:

  • Donation to a conservation organization in the recipient’s name
  • Edible gifts, growable gifts, or recreation equipment for people who love the outdoors
  • Experiences like a wine tasting, bike tour, pottery class, cooking class, or tickets to a show
  • Gifts that reduce waste like reusable bags, bamboo utensil sets, compost pails, water bottles, coffee thermos
  • Gifts that help cut down on energy use like smart thermostats, smart power strips, rechargeable batteries, and Energy Star devices

Gift Wrap Alternatives:

  • Reuse Gift Bags
  • Paper Grocery Bags
  • Reusable Cloth Bags
  • Cereal Boxes – ideal for clothing gifts
  • Paper Waste – Magazines, Newspapers, Crosswords Puzzles, Comic Strips, Maps, Junk Mail
  • Gift Toppers (instead of bows) – pinecones, twigs, cinnamon sticks, homemade cookie, dried orange peel
  • Gift in a Gift – wrap a gift in another gift like a hand-knit scarf, tablecloth, runner, or purse
  • Clay Pots Clay – place your gift in the pot and use the drainage dish as the lid to hide the present from view. Tie it together with a reused ribbon, or strips of scrap fabric.
  • Bucket for Hobbyists – use a bucket-like item related to what they love. For the chef, a cooking pot. A watering can for the gardener. A hat box for the fashionista. Showing them you know them inside and out will make the wrapping even better than the gift inside.


Tables and graphs showing the following differences between August 2022 and August 2023: Electricity use increased by 92,640 KWh; Natural Gas usage decreased by 9,215 CCF; Fuel oil usage decreased by 300 gallons; total energy usage decreased by 665 MMBtu; cost increased by $19,129

Two line graphs, the first showing Main Campus Total Cumulative Energy, showing a decrease from last year. The second is showing Health Science Campus Total Cumulative Energy showing that the energy used this year is about equal to last year.


FAQs About Peak Demand

What is electrical Peak Demand?

The electrical Peak Demand is the greatest amount of electricity that GUC must supply to all its customers at any given time, in any one month. Unfortunately, GUC does not actually know what the Peak Demand will be, when the Peak Demand period will occur, or when it has occurred until the month is over. GUC forecasts Peak Demand periods by analyzing anticipated unusually high or low temperatures, the current weather, average hourly industrial and residential usages, and known constant demands. GUC alerts its large customers of anticipated Peak Demand periods. ECU is one of many large customers receiving services from GUC in the region making Peak Demand prediction even harder.

Why does Demand matter?

The goal of GUC is to provide every industrial, institutional, and residential customer with adequate electrical power whenever it is needed. Therefore, GUC must be prepared to supply the maximum amount of electricity that might be demanded. Just as you “buy” electrical power from GUC, GUC “buys” electrical power from the North Carolina Eastern Municipal Power Agency (NCEMPA). During the lower “normal” electrical load periods, GUC pays only pennies per kilowatt-hour. However, during a Peak Demand period, GUC may pay nearly twenty dollars per kilowatt-hour. GUC, in turn, passes Peak Demand rates onto its customers.

How does Demand affect ECU?

Reducing demand during anticipated Peak Demand periods allows the University to save on the overall cost of electricity. Also, reducing the overall electricity usage saves the University some on monthly charges. In fact, a concerted effort by the University community to reduce electricity consumption during Peak Demand periods coupled with several energy saving renovations has reduced the University’s electrical expense by as much as $50,000 in one month. This amount of savings every month could translate into an annual savings of $600,000. Demand charges are very high during a Peak Demand period. For example, during the normal electrical load periods, ECU pays $.05 per kilowatt-hour of electricity that would power three PCs or ten 100-watt light bulbs. However, during Peak Demand, that same kilowatt-hour powering those same PCs or light bulbs will cost ECU $12.75. Therefore, there can be tremendous savings to ECU if less energy is being used during Peak Demand.

One other advantage of ECU using less power during Peak Demand is that this helps GUC keep the cost of what you pay for electricity at home lower.

What can I do to control Demand during a Peak Demand period?

There are many ways that you can help control demand. During Peak Demand periods, turn off all unnecessary lights and equipment including radios, fans, window air conditioners, etc. Your efforts do make a difference! But, remember, you must still be able to do your job. Peak Demand period has been announced. If every employee acts as an energy conservationist, especially during Peak Demand periods, the University will reduce its electrical expense. And, the savings may translate into more funds for other beneficial University expenditures and possible savings on your own electric bill at home.

Are there other reasons to reduce electrical consumption?

Consider another very important reason to reduce electrical consumption. The generation of electricity creates pollution. If not merely by its generation, then by the pollution produced in making and installing more transmission lines, transformers, substations, control equipment, and the associated construction. By reducing our electrical needs, we reduce the amount of pollution that would have been generated. Not only is energy conservation good for the University, but it is good for the environment and our community; more importantly, it is the right thing to do.

While Peak Demand periods are important, it is also important to save electricity on a routine basis to help reduce electrical costs. While you may not think your participation in these energy savings activities make a difference, remember that when your efforts are added to the efforts of a thousand other ECU faculty, staff, and students, it adds up to a big difference. To learn more about how to reduce energy consumption, visit this website:

Is it more cost effective to leave a fluorescent light on for an hour rather than turn it on and off 5 times within that hour with a total burn time of 5 minutes?

No. It is more cost effective to turn off a fluorescent light when not in use – even for short periods of time. According to the EPA, the advances in lighting technology over the past years have made the energy used to start a fluorescent lamp comparable to 5 seconds or less at normal operation. Consequently, turning the lights off for more than 5 seconds will save more energy than leaving them on.

How can I help save electricity on a daily basis?

  • Set your computer’s power save settings.
  • Turn off computers daily especially over weekends and vacations.
  • Choose replacement equipment that is “Energy Star” rated.
  • Turn off lights in offices when not in use.
  • Use florescent task lighting for office work and turn off general lighting.
  • Have incandescent light bulbs replaced with energy saving florescent bulbs.
  • Consolidate departmental refrigerator use.
  • Eliminate space heaters from offices. This is also a safety requirement.
  • Eliminate personal energy consuming items such as fish tanks, decorative lighting, etc.
  • Maintain room temperature at 78 degrees during the summer months and between 68-70 during the winter — wear sweaters.


Lighting Performance Contract

Starting in 2013, ECU participated in a lighting performance contract with several other institutions in the UNC System. The project replaced 30,000 fixtures and was paid for through an innovative financial agreement that utilizes cost savings from the more efficient Light Emitting Diode (LED) light fixtures to pay for the installation.


Schneider Power Monitoring Expert

This energy monitoring system is utilized at ECU to monitor real-time electrical energy consumption at most buildings on campus as well as the Dental School’s Service Learning Centers located across the state. Our goal is to utilize the dashboard feature of PME to stream real-time graphics to individual building monitors located in central lobby areas so that building occupants can reduce consumption.


Lucid Building Energy Dashboard

Campus Living utilizes this system for monitoring energy consumption in the residence halls. Twice per year residence halls on campus use the Lucid Dashboard to host the Watt Watch Energy Challenge, in which dorms compete against one another to see who can reduce energy the most over a month-long period. The winning dorm is awarded with a party sponsored by Campus Living.


HVAC Upgrades

Understandably one of the most heavily used buildings on campus. Due to its longer operating hours and the need to maintain archival storage standards of temperature and humidity, energy consumption is high. This year, ECU is upgrading much of the HVAC, optimizing its chiller plant and replacing outdated pneumatic controls. When complete, the efficiency will be greatly enhanced.


Dedicated Heat Recovery Chiller

At ECU’s West Research Campus, the main facility is heated with propane-fired gas boilers. In 2015, the building’s aging chillers were replaced with a more efficient chiller along with a separate heat exchanger which extracts “waste” heat from the water returning to the chiller and uses it to preheat the boiler water. This has resulted in a 70% reduction in propane use.


Solar Film Installations

Three of our older facilities with single-pane windows have had thermal film installed. This has resulted in reducing – by more than 90% – the infrared radiation passing through the glass. With the reduced heat load, the air conditioning works less – saving energy – and the aesthetics of the buildings are also improved.


Solar Umbrella Charging Stations

Two Zon Powersol Umbrellas have been installed. One is located outside of Jones Residence Hall and the other can be found in the East Carolina Heart Institute Atrium. These umbrellas have solar panels on top that power the charging station near the table top. These devices demonstrate the capabilities of solar power and allow up to three mobile devices to charge simultaneously. The intelligent USB charging ports sense when a device is charged and the LED display indicates power stored and available.


Shut the Sash Campaign

When a fume hood sash is left open, a large volume of air is constantly exhausted from the building, wasting massive amounts of energy. A single fume hood can use as much energy as 3-4 residential homes. On an annual basis, using a 6-foot VAV fume hood at 10% full open for experiment set up, 25% at 18 inch working opening and keeping the sash closed 65% of the time would save approximately $6,000 every year compared to a constant, fully open hood. The trivial cost to install the sash stickers is dwarfed by the operating cost reductions due to the decrease in airflow in VAV fume hood systems. The safety benefits gained by good sash operating procedures are realized in both CAV and VAV laboratories.

View more information about the Shut the Sash Campaign (PDF)


Fume Hood Decommissioning

The energy required to operate one standard fume hood costs ECU an estimated $7,000 per year! In fact, the energy required to condition and then move the air through the ductwork in one hood can be three- to four- times the amount to operate an entire residence for a year. Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) controls in laboratory facilities are programmed to provide a safe number of air changes per hour (ACH) when fume hoods are operated in an area. For these reasons, ECU is launching a new program for when ventilation equipment is out of service for maintenance or there is no research planned for the near future, the ACH must remain the same until the sashes are securely closed and equipment is decommissioned. Once that is accomplished, HVAC personnel can then reduce the number of air changes per hour in the workspace – greatly reducing the operating costs of the affected portion of the building. When it is determined a decommissioned hood is needed for upcoming research, Campus Operations will cover the cost for EH&S to retest the equipment and – upon successful test results – will re-commission the equipment for use and Facilities Services HVAC will adjust the Building Automation System accordingly to provide safe ventilation flows throughout the lab.

View more information about Fume Hood Decommissioning (PDF)


Alternative Fuel Use

Since 2015, ECU Transit has been switching their fleet of buses from diesel powered to buses that run on Compressed Natural Gas (CNG).  This was made possible through an agreement between ECU Transit, Waste Industries, and Greenville Utilities Commission (GUC).  As a result, Waste Industries switched out their entire fleet to CNG powered vehicles and GUC constructed a CNG filling station right across the street from the ECU Transit bus depot.  ECU Parking and Transportation utilizes two Nissan Leafs in their operations. Grounds Services operates a CNG Front-Loading refuse truck in the recycling department to service cardboard dumpsters.  This vehicle also serves as a back-up refuse truck.  ECU Grounds also utilizes the GUC CNG fueling station on Easy Street in Greenville, NC.  In addition to this fleet vehicle, ECU also utilizes alternative fuel equipment.  There are approximately (10) electric vehicles (GEM cars) in use throughout Academics, Facilities, PD, Student Health, etc..  Grounds Services has (10) electric Gators that are used on all campuses.  The Health Science Campus has (36) electric golf carts for use by Facilities personnel.  Grounds Services also has (5) propane powered riding lawn mowers.  The propane tanks are delivered from a vendor as opposed to having a filling station on campus.

Watt Watch Energy Challenge

Similar to Campus Conservation Nationals (CCN). ECU has hosted a Watt Watch Energy Challenge in the residence halls on Main Campus for the past two years. Typically, this competition challenges dorm residents to work together to reduce electricity consumption and mitigate the impacts of climate change. In recent years, the competitions have resulted in 6-9% energy reductions and over $80,000 in avoided energy costs for participating dorms!