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KU “Shut the Sash” program successfully saves energy

Thursday, June 30, 2016

LAWRENCE – The University of Kanas Center for Sustainability has recognized researchers who have reduced energy consumption related to laboratory equipment. Shut the Sash, an eight-week energy reduction program, focused on a single conservation behavior: the simple act of closing laboratory fume hoods.

A fume hood is a boxlike piece of safety equipment with a movable window called the sash. It is designed to exhaust hazardous fumes, limiting exposer to the user. The process requires a large amount of energy to heat and cool fresh air and move it through the buildings.

The campaign, which was April-May, concentrated on 29 fume hoods in the Multidisciplinary Research Building. Behavior changes related to the use of those hoods saved more than 322 million cubic feet of air from being air-conditioned and exhausted during the measurement period. The amount of air saved could fill Allen Fieldhouse more than 43 times. 

The Most Improved Sash Height during the program was awarded to the Pickings Lab under the direction of Professor Wendy Picking. They were able to lower their sash height by 37 percent. The amount of air that was saved from being air conditioned and exhausted from that lab alone would be enough to fill more than 350 hot air balloons.

The Middaugh/Volkin Lab, under the direction of Distinguished Professors Russ Middaugh and David Volkin, was awarded the Lowest Average Sash Height during the program. Their lab consistently kept their sash closed to 1 inch or lower on average during the program.

The building Green Team was instrumental in the development, implementation and success of the program.

“Shut the Sash not only saved energy and successfully changed behavior, but it created cohesion amongst researchers and boosted morale within the building. I am excited to see what MRB Green Team will tackle next,” said Cassi Reimer, KU’s energy conservation behavior specialist.

To encourage participants to keep sashes closed, the campaign included reminder stickers on each sash and signs at laboratory exits. Emails were sent out weekly and posters with updated results were shared to let the labs know if they are on track to reduce their sash heights.

The MRB Green Team celebrated the success of the program and recognized the award winners with an ice cream social for the building occupants on June 6. 

For more information about Shut the Sash, visit energy.ku.edu/ShutTheSash.