Sustainability at Reed

lightbulb imageEnergy FAQs

Here's the answers to many frequently asked questions regarding energy usage at Reed.

Where does Reed’s electricity come from?

Reed purchases energy from Portland General Electric (PGE), which is headquartered in Portland and is Oregon’s largest utility. They serve about 810,000 customers in 52 cities and six counties. PGE employs about 2,750 people in electricity generation, distribution, engineering, research and development, customer service and central services. PGE is an investor-owned utility – a publicly held company whose stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange. Oregon’s three investor owned utilities (PGE, Pacific Power and Idaho Power) serve about 70 percent of Oregon’s population. The remaining 30 percent of the state’s residents are served by publicly owned utilities. More than 90 percent of PGE’s revenues come from residential and commercial customers. The remainder comes from industrial customers such as steel, pulp and paper, metal manufacturing, and high tech industries like Intel and Solar World.

What resources are used to generate Reed’s electricity?

PGE's 2009 resource mix is:

24% coal, 17% long-term hydro contracts, 12% market purchase, 9% PGE hydro, 7% long term market contracts, 4% wind, 27% natural gas
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We are fortunate that there is so much hydro power available in the Pacific Northwest. Most of the country is largely dependent on coal as the primary fuel for generating electricity. For comparison, Ohio’s mix is: 77% coal, 16% nuclear, 4% natural gas, 1% oil, 1% hydro, and 1% other.

How much electricity does Reed purchase each year?

2009 – 11,512,173 kWh
2008 – 10,608,109 kWh
2007 – 10,511,507 kWh
2006 – 10,550,987 kWh
2005 – 10,543,849 kWh

As you can se Reed purchased 11,512,173 kWh of electricity in fiscal year ending June 30, 2009. This created about 10,313 MT eC02. If we estimate 1300 students, that’s about 7.9 metric tones per student. This is for utilities the college buys, but there are other things that contribute to our collective carbon footprint, like air travel and food, which are not included here.

The City of Eugene estimates 8.8 MT per capita. The statewide average is 17.6 MT and the national average is about 22 MT.

The consistent increase is the result of several factors. Total building space, campus population, and lifestyle factors like preferred indoor temperatures, time spent on computers, and the growing number of electrical devices per room.

How much does Reed spend on power each year?

2009 - $958,736
2008 – $875,633
2007 - $786,657
2006 – $752,345
2005 - $727,029

This budget includes the cost of electricity, natural gas and oil. It does not include water or transportation.

How does Reed heat & cool the campus?

Reed’s Physical Plant boilers provide steam heat for the physical plant, sports center, commons, MacNaughton, Foster/Scholz, ODB, Eliot, library, biology, physics, psychology, and chemistry buildings.

The physical plant boilers also supply a hot water loop that heats the Griffin-McKinley, Woodbridge, Chittick and Bragdon.

Many buildings have independent heating and/or cooling systems. Studio Art, DoJo, Woodstock houses, ETC, Prexy, Theatre, Naito, Sullivan, the Grove, and 28 West are stand-alone with gas-fired heating. Greywood has electric heat.

The boilers are fired on gas. The college receives a favorable rate from Northwest Natural Gas Company because we are also capable of firing on oil when there is an interruption or shortage of gas in NWNG’s pipeline.

Cooling in most of the buildings on campus is achieved by regulating outside air mixture in building air supply. Several areas are air conditioned: Kaul, new library addition, Vollum lounge and lecture hall, and ETC.

How is the temperature in buildings controlled?

There are approximately 50 buildings on campus. Many are connected to energy management software that balances environmental comfort considerations with sustainable energy conservation. These buildings can be controlled remotely. Other buildings are controlled by manual, on-site adjustments. Buildings are zoned based on exposure and the type of intended use at the time of construction. Target temperatures are programmed into buildings either digitally, or manually. Reed follows national standard guidelines intended to keep rooms heated to 68°F in the winter, and where available, cooled to 78° in the summer. A large lecture hall may require cooling year round, while small offices may require heating throughout the spring and fall. Meting target temperatures depends on local conditions like humidity, airflow, window openings, and internal heat created by people and electronics.

Everyone has their own ‘target temperature’ at which they are most comfortable. Individual actions like wearing layers, reducing light, and opening and closing windows or blinds can help adjust the temperatures of offices, dorms and classrooms.

Personal air conditioners and electric heaters can make regulating zones more difficult. If you are cold and use a portable electric heater, it may make others even colder because the additional heat the portable creates is registered by the thermostat, which then decides the whole zone does not require any additional heat. Extreme temperatures and discomfort should be reported to Facilities or Community Safety after hours or on weekends. Our ability to control temperature settings without negatively affecting others will ultimately determine whether settings can be adjusted. Patience is particularly appreciated during seasonal changes as heating and cooling systems take time to transition.

What about energy efficiencies & alternative energy systems on campus?

We are currently working on a long term agreement that would enable an ESCO (Energy Service Company) to analyze campus equipment and process, identify potential energy efficiencies, make recommendation for improvement, and provide creative financing opportunities for implementation.

We are currently researching the possibilities of adding solar film, panels and solar thermal hot water capacity to campus.

Reed College and facility services are dedicated to exploring new energy efficiencies now and in the future to minimize our carbon footprint and make the best use of the utilities we rely on.

What is energy used for at Reed?

Lighting, computing, air temperature, meal preparation, and travel.

What is the difference between total energy consumption & energy intensity?

Energy intensity is the energy usage per gross square feet of campus. Measurements based on this metric would allow for growth as Reed continues to improve it’s energy efficiency. Measurements based on total energy consumption would limit growth because building facilities or expanding operations demand more electricity, heating and cooling. Heat generally is measured in MMBTU and energy intensity is expressed as MMBTU/Gross Square Feet (GFS). A BTU is the amount of heat it takes to heat one pint of water, one degree F. A wooden kitchen match is 1 BTU. MMBTU is a million BTU’s.

How can I save energy in my dorm, office, or home?

Close your windows when you leave the room, especially during break. You can cut back energy use by making sure appliances like computers and lights aren’t wasting energy. Lighting consumes much of the energy we use on campus. Simple steps like turning out the lights when you leave a room reduce demand. Incandescent light bulbs only use 10-15% of the energy they consume, the rest is lost heat energy. They should always be turned off when not in use. Fluorescents (including CFLs) need only be turned off when leaving the room for 15 minutes, or longer.

Compared to incandescent bulbs, CFLs use ¼ the energy and last up to 10 times longer. Turning off your computer monitor when you are not using it for more than 20 minutes and shutting down your entire system when you are away for more than 2 hours can save the 65-250 watts of power it takes to operate an average desktop computer. Setting your computer to sleep, standby, or hibernate when you are away for less than 20 minutes is an easy way to reduce your computer’s energy consumption to just 1-6 watts during this time.

To change your computers sleep settings:

  • On a Mac go to System Preferences > Energy Saver
  • In Windows go to Start > Settings > Control Panel > Power Options.

    Note: Screensavers often increase energy consumption, and modern LCD color monitors don’t even need a screensaver. Only when the screen goes completely dark is a computer actually saving energy. Dark backgrounds on your desktop also use less energy than bright ones.

Unplug all accessories including printers, speakers, and scanners when not in use. If you don’t need extra light while working on your computer, switch off desk lamps and overhead lights. Consider plugging appliances into a power strip and switch it off when you leave your dorm or office. Some power strips can detect when appliances are not in use and switch off automatically.

Electricity is most expensive during peak hours: 6a.m-10p.m., Mon-Sat.

Is turning something off as good as unplugging it?

Most appliances continue using energy even when turned off or on standby. This includes computers, televisions, kitchen appliances, stereos, battery/phone chargers, and any device with a clock, sensor, or lighted display. Five percent of the energy we use in the U.S. is consumed by appliances on stand-by.

Where does my tap water come from?

Most of your tap water begins as rainfall in the Bull Run Watershed, which is near Mt. Hood. A small portion of the water may start as snowfall or fog drip within the watershed. Despite its proximity to the mountain, none of Portland's drinking water originates from Mt. Hood, as the watershed is separated from the mountain by a significant geologic ridge. Some water comes from the city's groundwater supply which the bureau uses as a back-up supply.


Fun Facts
  • Reed has 865 parking spaces for cars.
  • Reed has 951 parking spaces for bicycles.
  • Drinking 365 16 oz. bottles of water per year costs approximately $546 more than tap water. It takes 2 gallon of water to make 1 gal. of bottled water. 37 megajoules of energy, 9 gallons of oil to make the bottle, and 68 pounds CO2e.
  • Exit lights run on LED.
  • 50w halogen spotlights can be replaced with a 1.3w LEDs. One LED lasts up to 50,000 hrs. Reduces energy use by 85% and save 262 kWh over the life of the bulb. 400 CFLs were passed out to students in 2009 to replace incandescents.


    CFL Versus Incandescent Bulbs

    CFL Incandescent
    Energy input (watts) 13 60
    Light output (lumens) 810 830
    Useful life (hours) 10,000 1,500
    # Bulbs for 10,000 hours 1 6.7
    Bulb costs $4 $.032
    Electricity used (kilowatt hours) 130 600
    Electricity cost (@ $.08 per kwh) $10.40 $48.00
    Total Cost (Electricity + Bulb) $14.40 $50.14


  • Outdoor building and all pole lights are on photocell or time clock.
  • VFDs (variable frequency drives) increase efficiency and reduce motor load and operating costs; these are used for ETC and Cross Canyon water loops, and fan controls in chemistry, library, ETC and the reactor cooling tower.
  • We’re converting from pneumatic to digital controls for better off-hour scheduling when buildings are not in use and tighter setpoint temperatures when occupied: 2008 psychology, Eliot Hall, 2009 biology, 2010 chemistry.
  • All ODB widows were changed out to insulated, double paned, solar reduction glass.
  • White, rubberized membrane roofing (similar to a pool liner) is utilized when reproofing for avoiding amount of materials to landfill, reduced weight, and a reflective surface for building interior heat reduction at Vollum, library, bio/physics, RCA’s and DoJo House.
  • A 2003 University of Michigan Study reported that the national average energy usage for education was 175,000 BTU’s/sf. Reed averaged 111,743 BTU’s/sf in 2008. (British Thermal Unit - a unit of heat equal to the amount of heat required to raise one pound of water one degree Fahrenheit at one atmosphere pressure; equivalent to 251.997 calories)