Arts Tower Blackout

The Arts Tower is one of the most visible buildings in Sheffield and it’s the tallest University building in the UK!It is home to both academic and professional services departments and the lights of the Arts Tower are often seen shining brightly through the night.Green Impact here at Sheffield has undertaken two blackouts in the Arts Tower; it was first plunged into darkness on March 15th 2013.Dark Arts!
The light still on is a vending machine on level 16!This infographic summarising was produced with our 2013 results. The savings shown are huge!Here is a graph showing the real time energy data saved over the course of the Blackout weekend. We can see that baseline energy was reduced and it gives us an idea for the potential of the behaviour change part of our Energy Strategy in creating savings.graphA year later, after receiving an amazing response from students and staff, the blackout happened again.In April 2014 over the course of one weekend, energy usage was reduced by 24% compared to the six weekends proceeding it. This saved a total of 1036kWh over the weekend which is equivalent to a saving of £110.

So, how did it work?
25 student and staff volunteers joined together on the Friday night to take part and audit all levels of the Arts Tower. Volunteers went round the entire building to switch off all equipment that was unnecessarily left on. They made a note of each item so that we could record the savings made and work out which floor were our winners! And, the award went to Level 6, with just over 1% left on!
Energy Strategy
The University of Sheffield’s Energy Strategy has a section focused upon behaviour change. The Arts Tower Blackout is a clear example of how collectively, our individual actions can make a huge difference. Simple changes of habit, such as switching off equipment will result in both financial and environmental benefit as carbon emissions are reduced.
If the Blackout happened every weekend, we would save 24 tonnes of carbon every single year; picture 24 tonnes of CO2 as 24 full hot air balloons! It’s equivalent to a £5720 monetary saving. It’s also equivalent to the carbon sequestered by 615 tree seedlings grown for ten years!And what about if this happened every single evening and weekend in the Professional Services departments? We could save up to 83,399.75 kWh. That’s 45 tonnes of carbon or £8340 or the equivalent to the carbon sequestered by 47 acres of forest every single year!Higher levels of switching off already happen over the holidays. If we could extend this and incorporate it into everyday behaviour, the savings in energy usage could be massive!
We have two short term actions and a long term plan:Kevin Fisher, Facilities Manager, is touring Levels 1-9 reprogramming the occupancy sensors. This will make sure that they are all at the optimum sensitivity for each department.
Melvyn Broady, Building Facilities Manager and Safety Officer for the School of Architecture, is proposing a trial of occupancy light sensors on one floor of the Landscape and Architecture departments, with a view to installing them on Floors 9-19.
Finally, we are using what we’ve learned to plan the next 2 years of energy saving campaigns. Watch this space for an even bigger, even better Blackout!
We would like to expand the Blackout project further this year and involve more buildings on campus. If it sounds like a project your building would like to undertake, get in touch!

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