Sustainability

Summer meant an increased use of energy and water in venues across the nation. These increases are important to pay attention to because they impact the environment and the overall expense of building utilities. According to the Environmental Defense Fund, “65 percent of global warming is estimated to come from energy generation and use in the United States. In addition, consumers pay approximately $25 billion per year for estimated electricity to be lost to inefficient transmissions and distribution, and $150 billion is lost every year to power outages and blackouts in the United States.”

Water usage is a large contributor to energy consumption, and according to the Environmental Protection Agency the summer’s rising temperatures coincide with the use of outdoor water for landscapes.

It is important to conserve energy during the summer months to help protect the environment and reduce the use of fossil fuels, which are a non-renewable resource. Fossil fuels emit carbon dioxide, which is harmful to humans and the environment. It can take on forms including air pollution, acid rain, water pollution, and more, leading to long-term adverse effects on the environment and humans. However, you can easily prepare your facility and employees and create a more efficient environment in your building in a few easy steps.

How Ready is Your Venue?

Doing some pre-planning and putting things in place before it hits record temperatures will help out your utility bills and be greener for your venue all year long.

First on the list is to check your facility’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) unit and make sure it’s working properly and efficiently. You might need an adjustment for winter vs. summer conditions, humidity, or other climatic factors. If your air conditioning system runs off chilled water lines, make sure the insulation is sound and without leaks. If not, fissures can cause additional condensation to form, and your chilled water system will need to work harder than it should to achieve the same temperature set point. Also, check all the windows in the facility to make sure there are not major gaps that will release the cold air throughout the day.

In addition, encourage your employees to do their part to help conserve energy. They can use recirculating fans, which may be more effective when only a small portion of the building is being staffed, instead of turning on the AC. Also, they can close blinds and window coverings, blocking out the sun and UV rays that can inadvertently warm up a room. Turning off lights when leaving a room is another easy way to help keep spaces at a cooler temperature throughout the day.

Another way to conserve energy during the summer is with water usage. First off, consider using landscaping that is indigenous to the area and requires less water maintenance during the summer months. When irrigation is needed, check the programmed schedule and make adjustments to help conserve water. To reduce evaporation, the best time for watering is between 4 a.m. and 9 a.m., when the air is still cool and the wind is usually calm. Check the programming for frequency and duration of use. Longer, deeper water on a less frequent schedule is more sustainable than shorter, frequent watering, as it promotes deep root growth to help plants and grass survive the summer heat. Also, adding a quick maintenance check of the irrigation heads to your preventative maintenance schedule every one-to-two weeks can help you quickly identify broken sprinkler heads or line breaks from shifting soil. Plus, it gives you a good reason to step away from the desk and get some fresh air as you walk the venue grounds.

By doing some small tasks throughout the facility and incorporating employees you can help lower your energy use and have the added benefit of protecting the environment while increasing savings for your facility.

Want more tips? Here are a few ways to save energy during the summer from Energy Star: http://www.energystar.gov/?c=heat_cool.pr_hvac. In addition, here are some additional tips everyone can do at home or work for a greener summer: http://www.epa.gov/epahome/hi-summer.htm. FM

This IAVM Sustainability Committee article was written by Jeff Davis, CMP, general manager of the College Park Center at the University of Texas-Arlington; Becky Migas, sales and events manager for Sherpa Concerts; and Jennifer Nakayama, director of operations for the Hawai’i Convention Center. All three serve on the committee.