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During Heat Wave, NYU Helps ConEd and NYC with Energy Curtailment

July 17, 2013

Like Shakespeare in the Park or the Washington Square Summer Music Fest, it’s become a summer ritual: NYC braces for a heat wave, and NYU students and employees start looking for ways to reduce their energy usage by turning off non-essential lights and mechanical systems across the University. If you have ever been through a black-out – and many of us in the NYU community have – you’ll understand why people willingly comply: as Con-Edison tells us, these efforts will help reduce the chance of brown-outs, black-outs, and damage from over-heating to the city's electrical system.

In ways large and small NYU is doing its part.


A NYU engineer checks the main circuit breaker control panel in the CoGen plant.  The red lines at the top indicate ConEd’s electrical grid; the blue lines at the bottom indicate NYU’s electrical grid.  Looping lines of both colors represent where the two grids meet, and they indicate that the two electrical power grids are in synch.


For example, at NYU’s Carlyle Court – a student residence on Union Square -- a notice went out to residents via twitter noting the energy curtailment.

In my building, 25 west 4th Street in the Myer Complex, the building manager, Richard Malloy, sent around an email this morning reminding occupants to conserve energy where possible. “Please turn off your personal computers, lights, appliances, etc., when not in use,” Malloy’s note said. “Also turn off any unnecessary classroom and office lighting, and any areas where the A/C can be shut down or reduced, please let me know.” Many of my colleagues with windows worked with their lights off, and one of the building’s elevators was shut down. The 5th floor elevator lobby was gloomily dark.

While many of our buildings around Washington Square get their power from NYU's co-generation plant, -- itself one of NYU's most significant investments in reducing our dependence on the grid -- energy conservation is still very important. Our CoGen system is interconnected with Con-Edison’s electric grid. So by conserving power, NYU is able to contribute more of it to the grid, or – if demand gets very high -- draw less power from the grid during peak periods of electrical demand.

The NYU Office of Sustainability notes that during these curtailment periods, NYU sheds approximately 9,000 kWh per day. According to the U.S. EIA, that is enough electricity to power the average U.S. household for one year. With everyone’s awareness, cooperation, and conservation, NYU is doing its part to help support NYC by being responsible electric consumers during the summer heat waves.

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