Op-ed

Conserving energy for a Green Campus

 

By Waris Pirzada

Punjab University is the Alma mater of thousand students and have 57 prestigious Institutes and numbers of departments and hostels for boys and girls. The electricity consumption of the university in in Mega watts undoubtedly. This is also interesting that one megawatt is sufficient for the 1K homes. Solar energy is the only renewable energy that we can use to turn the campus into the “Green campus”. But for the production of 1MW electricity we need 2 acres of land, nearly 14,000 solar panels and a ton of batteries.
Obviously we can’t turn the campus into a “Solar Power Plant”, So the best solution is to reduce the consumption of energy. The best way possible is to change the old gadgets with the new more innovative and energy efficient appliances. The old designed Split Air Conditioners, fluorescent and halogen lights are the major electricity consuming appliances. All of them harm the environment ultimately, All of these appliances uses a massive amount of energy to function, and unless that energy comes from a sustainable source you’re likely adding to the number of fossil fuels being burnt out there.

Air conditioners have dutifully performed their task of providing us with moments of relief during the scorching heat of summers but it does impact the environment too, when ever we turn on the AC all the hot air of place seems to be magically disappear from the room. But wait, All of all that heat is just being pumped out into the local atmosphere, creating atmospheric ‘heat bubbles’ over your local area or even an entire city.
These heat zones, known as urban heat islands where they occur above a large town or city, disrupt natural weather patterns.

Almost every department of PU has plenty of Air conditioners of different size and tons. Tons are usually misunderstand with the weight but 1 ton air conditioner does not mean it is of 1000 kilograms. Tonnage means how much heat an air conditioner can remove from a room in 1 hour.

Getting a bit technical, it takes 286000 BTU (British Thermal Units) to melt 1 ton of ice. So, 1 ton AC means 12000 BTU/hour cooling capacity (143000 BTU/12 hours). In other words, a 1 ton AC is capable of removing 12000 BTU heat from a room in 1 hour. Now let’s talk about the second major energy consumption appliance which is Fluorescent and Halogen lights. Fluorescent tubes have been around what seem like “forever” –  However, just because something has been around “forever”, does that make it the best solution?

All the departments in PU have the tube light fixture in ceiling, and an ordinary fixture contains at least 2 fluorescent rods. and a single class may contain number of fixtures. let’s estimate an assumption amount of energy that 100 fixtures with LED lights and Fluorescent light can consume in a year.

Fluorescent Operation:
Annual Energy Consumption: 75,336 kWh

LED Operation:
Annual Energy Consumption: 28, 032 kWh

Savings:
Annual Energy Savings: 47, 304 kWh

After estimating the energy consumption of LED and old-fashioned lights we can easily say that LED’s are the “lights of future”, which lighten up the place without consuming the huge chunk of electricity and also decrease the bill. After taking Lights and AC into account we can’t move ahead without discussing the lethal power back up machine which is “Diesel Generators”.  Most of the departments of PU have diesel run generators as a power backup.

Running on full load an 100KV generator takes approx 7 gallons of diesel, Diesel exhaust contains more than 40 toxic air contaminants, including many known or suspected cancer-causing substances, such as benzene, arsenic, and formaldehyde. It also contains other harmful environmental pollutants, including nitrogen oxide, currently the single most important ozone-depleting emission. So, it is evident now that converting the departments of campus onto solar power cannot work unless university adopt energy efficient equipment and appliances. which can turn down the energy consumption of PU and had a less environmental impact.

The writer is a student of Development Journalism at Punjab University Lahore. You can find more writings by him at his blog.

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