Library Energy Conservation Working Group Report

Library Energy Conservation Working Group Report:

Education and Personal Action Recommendations



In recent years, the operating costs associated with energy have increased dramatically. These costs have a significant impact on the finances of institutions of higher education. By the end of FY09, the University projects that the deficit in funding available to meet its energy needs is projected to approach $90-million. Consequently, it is imperative for the University to reduce energy consumption.  In order for this to happen, campus units must reduce their energy consumption as well.  In the long-run, developing a more sustainable means of conducting business is important to the long-term health of our nation and our environment, but in the short-term, helping the University to save money on energy contributes to the overall financial health and stability of the institution.


As the Library Energy Working Group’s first report outlined, there are steps that can be taking at the organization level, such as reducing the IT footprint.  The individual also has a role in creating a more “green” workplace.  Long-term success depends in part on changes in attitudes about sustainability and changes in employee behavior.  The recommendations in this document focus on increasing individual awareness and personal and small group actions.



The intent of this document is to launch a program of workplace education to affect employee behavior in the areas of energy consumption and sustainable use of resources.  This document is not intended to address every possible solution within the Library or to outline every project being developed between the University Library and its campus partners.


We believe that this set of recommendations will help the Library to support the University’s efforts to conserve energy and develop a more sustainable operation in the following ways:


  • Reduce direct and secondary power consumption
  • Reduce primary costs (procurement)
  • Raise individuals’ awareness and participation in the greening of the Library




I.                   Give meaning to the problem


This is the most important part of this document.  In order to care, people must understand the problem and the solutions in concrete, quantifiable terms.  They need to know that their actions can make a difference and to want extent.  The Library must gather data from Campus F&S, Library Facilities, and sources such as the EPA to assemble concrete action points with quantified impact. These can be presented in various outreach and education venues such as the ESWG website, emails, presentations, etc.


Examples of information that should be made more accessible include:

  • How much energy does the Library use?
  • What materials are consumed and waste is generated in the Library’s daily operations? Paper? Toner? e-waste?
  • What impact will various actions make (turning off the lights every day) in both financial and environmental terms?
  • What is the Library doing to work on these issues?  What impact will that have?  (e.g. how much money is saved by replacing existing light bulbs with CFs.)


Target Completion Date:              Start May 2009; continue into FY10, as facts and actions are identified


Responsibility:                                 ESWG members, Library Facilities, Central Reference or Multicultural Services GAs


II.                 Share the message


Communication is a central part of education.  The ESWG needs to share information about the problem and the solutions.  In addition to information about energy use on campus and within the library, information with specific meaning to the individual should be included, such as tips on conserving energy at home as well as at work, energy use facts, community recycling resources, as well as long term impact on Illinois communities.  The tips and suggestions for action can be updated regularly to refresh content and maintain awareness and engagement.


Marketing should be mainly electronic for the obvious paper consumption reasons, but some well-placed signs, table tents to be placed by public computers, etc.would reach a lot of people and be a continuous message that could be periodically changed. Topics that could be discussed include: paper consumption in the Library, energy consumption by CPUs and e-waste generated, power consumption in Library operations, personal and ecological impact of practices such as bottled water consumption, etc.


Target Completion Date:              Launch in April 2009; ongoing


Responsibility:                                 Emily Love, Kathleen Kern and Central Reference GA


III.               Educate each other


The ESWG suggests that each unit (or division) have a designated “energy ambassador” to be a conduit for communication, recognition of individual’s efforts, and to maintain unit accountability.  This individual would be responsible for simple things such as ensuring that lights and equipment are turned off at the end of the day, encouraging others by recognizing their efforts locally, and sharing and explaining communications from the ESWG.  The Energy Ambassadors would be point-people and role-models.   They could also help with Library-wide publicity efforts and content for the ESWG website.   EWSG would launch this program through outreach to library groups such as LSSA, Divisions, AC, etc. explaining the role and also using the opportunity to hold discussions about library energy use.


Target Completion Date:              Identification in late spring 2009; ongoing


Responsibility:                                 Subcommittee of SAWG, designated “Energy Ambassadors”


IV.               Support individual and office conservation


Conservation efforts within the University Library are dependent upon actions of both the Library and the individuals working within it. While there are activities that can be addressed administratively, many efforts require the initiative of individuals within the unit. For example, in order for the University Library to cut down on energy consumption by mini-fridges, members of the University Library should take the initiative to pack their lunches in reusable lunch coolers. Options may exist for these to be provided, but there is little reason for them to be purchased if the units will not volunteer to reduce the number of refrigerators operating throughout the Library system.


Provide the following:

  • For units that volunteer to surrender mini-fridges, the Library should purchase collapsible lunch coolers for all permanent employees.
  • Reusable coffee mugs – this was a successful program several years ago. It should be repeated in order to replace lost cups, reach new employees, and cut down on waste generated in the Library.


Other administrative actions:

  • Reusable calendars – white board planning calendars to replace paper calendars.
  • Refillable pens – as standard-issue office supply for individuals (not for supplies at public service desks).
  • Limit the distribution of local and campus phonebooks to one per unit unless a special request is made.
  • Committee work should become greener:
    • Committee chairs should cease bringing copies of agendas and handouts that have been previously distributed via email to meetings.
    • Heavily paper dependent committees such as FRC and P&T should work to develop paperless processes that will eliminate the need for multiple copies of dossiers and cv’s to be printed and distributed to members.
  • Purchase “green” office and party supplies where feasible, recognizing that initial cost may be higher, but environmental impact should be less.
  • Encourage staff and patron recycling through attention to location and appearance of recycling stations. Many recycling bins in the library look like waste-paper baskets or like something set out to be recycled.
  • Recycle beyond office paper and newsprint: recycle withdrawn books, other media types, and batteries.
  • Turn in under-used computers/monitors/peripherals.
  • Switch plate covers with a reminder to turn of the lights.


Target Completion Date:              Identification of incentive areas in summer 2009 with phased program for fall 2009 and 2010.            


Responsibility:                                 Library Administration, Library Facilities, Library Business Office, ESWG