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The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™ (STARS) is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance.

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Liaison Michele Hebert
Submission Date Aug. 26, 2011
Executive Letter Download

STARS v1.0

University of Alaska Fairbanks
IN-1: Innovation 1

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete Expired Michele Hebert
Director
Office of Sustainability
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A brief description of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome :

There are many challenges to sustainable transportation in Alaska, distances between major cities is greater than in other parts of the country, the road system does not provide access to many parts of the state, and the cold temperatures and snow can cause problems for the vehicles.
One of these problems that faces us at UAF is the expenditure of electricity to power plug in block heaters for the vehicles on campus. Last fall we began a program installing Temro Power Saver Cords on university, student, staff, and faculty vehicles. These cords have a thermostat that is attached to the coolant line from the engine to the heater core inside the vehicle. This thermostat switches on when the temperature drops bellow 20 degrees F and then back off once the temperature exceeds 40 degrees F. This cycling saves electricity in two major ways. The first is by turning on and then off when the temperature gets warm enough. This prevents the use of electricity to produce excess heat that is wasted into the air. The second way they cut down on electrical use is by delaying the initial use of electricity after being plugged in. When a vehicle pulls into a parking spot the engine is already warm. If it is plugged in right away all the energy going into it is wasted.
The amount of energy these cords save is affected by many variables. The first is the size of the engine. Larger engines contain more coolant and therefore will require more time and energy to heat and will therefore spend more time turned on. Not all block heaters use the same amount of power or put out the same amount of heat. A heater that is overpowered in comparison to the size of the engine will save more energy by using one of these cords compared to a heater that is more efficient and better matched to that particular engine. The outside temperature on a specific day also has a lot of affect on how much energy is saved.
These cords can also be combined with other commonly used methods to cut down on energy consumption. If a person puts a blanket over the hood of the car after parking it the engine will take longer to cool off initially and the thermostat will spend more of its cycle turned off and less time using power. If people wait to plug there vehicles in until an hour or two before they need them the cord will not increase the amount of time that it takes to heat the engine. The block heaters on most vehicles use between 600 and 1200 watts. Switching the heater off even for a short time goes a long way towards reducing the amount of energy used. These timers allow people who park at the university to leave there vehicle plugged in while they are in class without having to worry about wasting electricty.
The program to install the cords has been a great success. We started in the fall and have now installed all the cords that we had. We expect that the cords we have installed will save electricity, both on campus and in the homes of those who have them, for winters to come. A special thanks goes to Grand Valley Electric Association, Travis Cortez at the CTC auto shop, Sarah Mousseau at facilities service, John Clendenin at risk management, Michael Golub, Michel Hebert, Chancellor Rogers, and all the people who participated in the program.


A letter of affirmation from an individual with relevant expertise:
The website URL where information about the innovation is available :

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.