By Melanie Stewart
October 2nd is Energy Efficiency Day—a collaborative effort to “Save Money. Cut Carbon. Breathe Easier.” Yep, it’s all about energy use from energy groups, and the goal is still health.
As you hopefully know, this is why UNMC & Nebraska Medicine have a goal to achieve Net Zero Building Emissions by 2030—it directly aligns with our mission to create a healthy future for all. Emissions are driving climate change, which is already having an impact on our health, with more drastic changes coming. Emissions are pollution, and that pollution has now been tied to maladies in every bodily system—from cancer to diabetes to skin disorders and infertility.
As we work towards our goal, we’ve reduced a drastic amount of energy on campus—new systems and processes to control buildings, a new (highly efficient) chiller, LED lights in parking garages and buildings (update coming soon!), and changing processes for energy curtailment in the summer.
While those projects are impressive, it’s important not to forget those seemingly little actions that really add up! Every time you Flip the Switch (off), Shut the Sash on your fume hood, take the stairs instead of the elevator, or choose not to use an ADA button at a doorway, you are helping us to achieve our net zero energy goal. That energy may seem like a small, unnoticeable amount—but it’s not. The size of the Med Center means that thousands of lights are being turned off, hundreds of fume hoods are being closed, etc. and it really adds up!
The same is true at home—energy efficiency actions save you money, but the more people that take part the larger the effect is. Speaking of home, here are some simple actions you can take:
- Replace light bulbs with LEDs.
- Can’t replace them all at once? Start with the bulbs that are on the most.
- Seal leaks around doors and windows.
- Replace your furnace filter regularly.
- Turn off/unplug electronics that are not in use.
- Use cold water to wash clothes, air dry as many as possible.
- Close blinds in the summer, open them in the winter.
- Use a programmable thermostat, or set a reminder to change yours manually.
- Buy Energy Star labeled appliances and equipment.
Thank you for all you do to save energy, both here and at home; you are improving your health and the health of your community.