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Three Creative Ways to Save Energy in the Library

by Sarah Shaban

Sarah Shaban is a senior in biology at UIC. As the energy intern for the Sustainability Internship Program, her projects include gathering energy data and information about building occupant behavior, as well as leading UIC's involvement in the 2019 Freezer Challenge, which encourages UIC labs to reduce energy use by practicing proper freezer maintenance and management.

In this blog post, Sarah recommends ways that students and staff can save energy while working the Daley Library. In addition to reducing the library's carbon footprint, these measures can also save the university thousands of dollars in utilities costs!

Ways to Save as a Student Heading link

Daley Library from the Morgan street entrance

1. Use revolving doors instead of swing doors!


When you use the normal swing doors, they stay open and let cold or hot air into the building which makes the HVAC system work harder to maintain the building’s internal temperature, which uses more energy. Revolving doors minimize the amount of air that is coming in and out of the lobby. One study found that using a revolving door can save 36 watt hours of energy. While every building is different, the savings can add up; if every person who visited the Daley Library each day used the revolving door instead of the swing doors, we could save around 83.5 kilowatt hours of energy per day–about the same as preventing Co2 emissions from 64.5 pounds of burned coal, or 6 gallons of gas.


Mac computers in the library

2. Use the UIC computers instead of your laptop!


Many students plug in their laptop chargers and work for hours at a time. If possible, save your work on an online drive and do your work from one of the computers already provided in the library. All public computers in the library are plugged in and turned on nearly 24/7, so using the computers that are already consuming energy will make sure no additional energy is wasted!

Windows on Floor 2 of the Daley Library.

3. Study in a shared place!


The lights in the library are always on, and using private study rooms means you’ll probably need to turn on the lights to see better (and maybe forget to turn them off after you leave!). So, instead of reserving a separate study room, try to study in collaborative spaces such as the idea commons or the second floor to save energy.


Ways to Save as an Employee Heading link

Library exterior

1. Work by daylight during moderate temperature days, and close the blinds during extreme temperature days!


If the weather is temperate and you have an office space with a window, try to keep the blinds open and work in the daylight instead of using the office lights. However, when it’s hot outside, the sun can heat up the inside of your office, causing the AC to work harder and use more energy.

So, be sure to close your blinds when the sun is heating up your office space. In this case, it’s okay to use office lighting–the energy spent on lighting is far less than the energy spent on cooling!


work station in the library

2. Unplug your personal items (i.e. phone chargers) and other appliances that are not in use.


Library staff can also save energy by unplugging phone chargers, printers, and kitchen appliances when they are not in use. For example, if there is a faculty lounge that has a coffee machine, it can be unplugged after the morning because it will likely not be used during the afternoon (except for those especially hard days!).

Doing little things like unplugging appliances that we do not use all day saves energy that was ignored before. Want to save even more energy? Unplug appliances in your home as well!


library stairs

3. Take the stairs instead of the elevator! 


Not only will this save the Daley Library energy, but it’s also good for your health! The average elevator uses 3,800 kWh each year. This can be reduced, if not completely avoided, if more people started taking the stairs. Another added benefit is that you don’t have to wait for the stairs the way you have to for the elevators. If you’re physically able, try taking the stairs the next time you find yourself waiting for a slow elevator!