From Dec. 22 until Jan. 3, the University of New Mexico’s Main Campus will resemble a ghost town.
The annual Winter Setback Program will take effect, as the majority of campus buildings, including many of the residence halls, will be locked. The UNM Physical Plant Department will set back temperatures in certain buildings in an effort to save the campus money and conserve energy.
This year will mark the 10th anniversary of the program which, according to the University, has saved the campus hundreds of thousands of dollars since it was started by the PPD, according to UNM’s district energy system.
The combined savings from the past nine years from the buildings powered by the district energy system were $604,363. This number was obtained from the University's DES and only reflects the 82 buildings that are part of the DES.
In a press release, UNM Interim President Chaouki Abdallah said that because the University’s annual heating bill is more than $7 million, “continuing this energy conservation program simply makes sense.”
Before the Winter Setback Program was implemented, energy control systems were not capable of regulating building temperatures to allow PPD to dial temperatures down. PPD realized the potential to save money and energy and upgraded the control systems in many of the large buildings.
PPD Director Alfred Sena said in addition to saving the campus money and resources, the program also gives PPD staff a break over the holidays.
“It’s an opportunity for (the staff) to have a recharge, to not have to be operating those facilities at full bore,” Sena said.
While the program may benefit the University’s staff and budget, it may create an inconvenience for some students.
Traditional residence halls take part in the program, which means they are locked throughout the Winter Setback Program, and students are unable to enter them until Jan. 3.
“If you leave something behind, like clothes or something that you need, you can’t come back in and get it,” said Demitrius Payne, a freshman and athletic training major living at UNM.
Payne, however, also acknowledged the positive side of the program.
“I think it’s a pretty smart idea, the way they’re trying to conserve energy,” Payne said.
Tom Hanlon is a news reporter at the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @TomHanlonNM.