April: Energy

With over 12.5 million square feet of buildings, Yale consumes 280,000 megawatt hours (MWh) of electricity per year, which is equivalent to the electricity used by 26,000 homes in the United States. Yale has two co-generation power plants, which provide electricity and thermal energy to the majority of campus.

Yale Facilities has embarked upon an ambitious energy reduction program by increasing the efficiency of campus energy production and distribution, improving building efficiency, and testing renewable energy technologies.

In 2005, the University set a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from its two power plants and purchased electricity 43% below 2005 levels by 2020. To date, Yale has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 16%.

As part of the Yale Sustainability Strategic Plan 2013-2016, Yale has committed to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions 5% below 2013 levels by June 2016. We need your help to achieve this goal!

Sustainable choices you can make…

Reduce nighttime energy use

Since October 2012, Facilities representatives have conducted energy night surveys in nearly 20 buildings on campus. By walking through the spaces after hours, Facilities is able to see how energy is used when the building is unoccupied. Several common energy issues have been identified across campus. In many buildings, audio/video equipment and IT equipment (e.g. computers, monitors) are left on overnight. Others have lighting and temperature control issues (e.g., controls are inadequate, temperature settings don’t follow university set points). 

  • Tip: Turn off A/V and IT equipment when not in use.  When possible, turn off lights for spaces not in use and set thermostats according to university temperature set points.  Report issues with lighting or temperature controls through a Facilities Work Request.
  • Tip: Designate a shared workspace to accommodate those working during atypical hours; this can also create a more pleasant and collaborative work environment for those working irregular hours. Identify frequently unused spaces, and keep the doors to those spaces closed to improve the efficiency of the heating and cooling in the spaces that you do use. This will help keep the occupied areas more comfortable throughout the seasons. 


Don’t let your workspace consume energy when you’re not even there. Many appliances use electricity just by being plugged in. In fact, a quarter of the power used by personal electronics is consumed while they are turned off or in standby mode.[1]

  • Tip: Connect your electronics to a power strip to make it easier to cut all power to the electronics when you leave. Check out the Technology Worksheet to find other opportunities to efficiently and sustainably utilize technology.

Use the sun

Taking advantage of natural light saves energy, but natural lighting has also been found to increase productivity and reduce stress.[2]

  • Tip: Turn off that lamp and get your desk out of that dark corner! See how you can arrange your workplace to maximize the use of natural light.

Replace incandescent bulbs

An LED bulb uses 8 watts and a CFL uses 14 watts to produce the same amount of light as a 60 watt incandescent bulb.

  • Tip: Exchange your incandescent light bulbs with compact florescent or LED bulbs to save the environment and save you money.

Additional resources

Save energy and money at home! Sign up for a ratepayer funded home energy audit (yes, you are a ratepayer – make sure you take advantage of the program that you’ve already paid for!). For less than $100 (or no-cost if you are eligible), you can have up to $1,000 of energy efficiency upgrades installed in your home. Go to Energize CT or contact Annie Harper in Yale’s Office of Sustainability to find out more.

Review the Yale Building Occupancy Training program to learn more about how to maximize the sustainable performance of your building. There are interactive presentations available for labs, offices and academic spaces, residential colleges, and residence halls.

Take a look at the Green Workplace Certification program. The checklist offers actions that promote environmental vitality, human health & well-being, and financial viability and includes a section on energy. See what new steps your workplace can take.