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Where’s the furnace?

March 16, 2009

That was one the questions posed by Tim Blodgett from ERM (Energy Resource Management) on his walk through our building last Thursday.  To our embarrassment, none of us really knew!    Tim had been invited by Todd and a group of students who are investigating the size of our school’s carbon footprint and ways to reduce it.img_03871

Tim’s energy audit was courtesy of the Minnesota Schools Cutting Carbon grant that ARTech received from the state of Minnesota.  ARTech is one of 103 schools participating in the program.  From data that the student’s had collected, Tim was able to calculate the school’s carbon footprint.  He then unleashed an impressive array of gadgets in readiness for a tour of the building –  including a laser thermometer and infrared camera to identify areas where we were losing heat.

Tim was able to identify many key areas where the school could save energy.   See the complete list on this link to Todd’s website.

I was reminded of Tim’s visit today while browsing through my March edition of National Geographic. The lead story in the magazine is titled Saving Energy It Starts At Home.   If you haven’t read it already, I suggest you take time to read it.  The authors take on a year-long challenge to engage in a “Carbon Diet” and challenge their lifestyles and habits accordingly.  Taking the premise that the average US household produces about 150 pounds of CO2 a day (almost five times the global average!) they took on the task of reducing their household CO2 emissions by 80%.  It’s a compelling read and certainly made me question img_0395whether I need to do an energy audit of my own home.   

As the NG article stresses, buildings, not cars produce the most CO2 in the US.  It will be fun to see if Todd and his group are able to reduce the carbon footprint of the ARTech building by encouraging the community to set out on a carbon diet together.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Brian Tyler permalink
    April 13, 2009 7:17 pm

    I recently viewed an Efergy meter that, designed for use in the UK, clips on the outside of the power supply input line to the house and then, by radio, signals the instantaneous power consumption to a display that can be put anywhere in the house. So switch off a light or a computer and see how much power is saved. Take an (electric powered) shower and be shocked by the jump in consumption. Do you have anything like that available in the US? It is very educative.

    How about a heat pump for the school? Take a look at p146 of one of my current favourite (and free) books: “Sustainable energy – without the hot air” by David J C MacKay. A pdf download is available at:

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