Monday, September 28, 2015

On-Campus Housing Survey informs UCSC’s Climate and Energy Strategy Study

In the spring quarter of 2015, undergraduate residents living in on-campus housing were requested to complete a survey to provide input on heating, cooling, and lighting in their residential housing units. Over the summer, Sustainability Office interns assigned to support the Climate and Energy Strategy (CES) study worked with one of the project’s consultants, Ecoshift, to compile a summary of the survey results. One hundred and eighteen students completed the survey, which represents only a small fraction (1.5 percent) of the total population of undergraduate residents living in on-campus housing. It is important to note that this summary is framed within the context of this small sample. The CES interns are working to increase participation in the survey by launching another round of surveys this fall.

The majority of heating and cooling issues are skewed towards Porter College and Stevenson College, with these residential housing units representing 57 percent of the survey responses. Generally and as expected, respondents agreed that their residences were too hot during the spring, fall, and summer quarters and too cold during the winter quarters. The following graph represents the general thermal comfort of the residences on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being extremely cold and 10 being extremely hot.

The graph displays the majority of survey respondent’s experience thermal comfort. Similarly, the survey found 88 percent of campus has adequate hot water in sinks around campus and showers.

Surprisingly, many students are either unaware that they can adjust the temperatures in their rooms with the thermostats provided in the residences or simply do not use them. CES interns hope to be able conduct outreach to new residents about how they can adjust their room temperatures. As for lighting, a majority of the students agreed that they found unoccupied spaces with lights left on more times than not. Many residents indicated that occupancy sensors did not work or they weren’t sure what occupancy sensors do. By adding occupancy sensors and educational outreach on how they work, wasted energy from leaving lights on in unoccupied spaces can be minimized.

The survey has given the CES interns and consulting team good insight into energy issues that residents face on-campus. This knowledge can enable planning of concrete steps to improve thermal and lighting issues in on-campus residential housing while ensuring that comfort is maximized with the least amount of energy consumed.

As mentioned above, there is another round of the survey happening this fall. Complete this survey for a chance to win the grand prize $100 gift certificate, or one of four $50 certificates to the Bay Tree Bookstore. Please spread the word to your on-campus friends about this opportunity. More survey participation means more invaluable information our campus has for solving energy issues, making students more comfortable, and reaching carbon neutrality! Look out for upcoming emails and flyers about the survey.

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