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Facilities Operations

Vassar College

I. Purpose

Vassar College is committed to a policy of energy efficiency and conservation in its facilities and operations. This policy identifies energy conservation as a significant issue for the entire campus community and outlines steps to conserve energy and reach the energy and sustainability goals of the College.

II. Policy

It is the College’s policy to reduce energy consumption through the efforts of its faculty, staff, and students. The College will pursue this policy through active and passive measures:  active measures include asking the College's community to close doors, turn off lights and engage in other, general conservation activities, and education (i.e. staff forum, administrative forum, faculty meetings, student interest groups, and outreach); passive measures include installing energy-saving devices, designing new infrastructure with a goal of energy conservation, operating existing facilities in the most feasible energy-efficient manner, and developing procurement guidelines that incorporate energy-awareness. The policy will be reviewed periodically by appropriate staff and college committees to keep it current with new developments in energy conservation.

III. Procedures

A. Buildings 

  • Windows and doors of heated or air-conditioned spaces should be kept closed. Imbalances in heating or cooling should be called to the attention of Buildings and Grounds Services. (Service Response, extension 5555)
  • Office equipment, lights, and window air conditioners should be turned off when not in use.
  • Personal computers and printers should be turned off when not in use.
  • Facilities Operations should adhere to established preventive maintenance schedules for all HVAC equipment to ensure efficiency of operation. Concerns about preventive maintenance should be called to the attention of the Trades Operations Manager, Dave Bishop, extension 5712.
  • The guideline for domestic hot water is 120 degrees unless a higher temperature is needed for food preparation or lab use.
  • All lighting, except that required for security purposes, will be turned off when buildings and facilities are unoccupied, such as at the end of the work day. Custodial personnel will turn lights back on only in the areas where they are performing custodial work and will turn lights off when tasks are completed.
  • All central air conditioning equipment, including supply and return air fans, is to be shut off, or, for thermostatically controlled systems, set to activate at 80 degrees, on weekends, holidays, and at night, except where doing so would adversely affect instruction, electronic data processing or other critical or 24-hour operations.
  • Single-room air conditioning equipment, such as window-mounted air conditioners, should be set to 75-78 degrees and turned off whenever the affected room is not in use.
  • The use of space heaters should be minimized, both for energy conservation and fire safety. Offices are encouraged to work with Buildings and Grounds to identify ways to improve the function of installed heating systems. In some cases, permanent improvement must await a major renovation of older steam heat distribution systems to energy-efficient systems with more local controls. Once the decision is made to discontinue use of a space heater, Purchasing can assist in disposal through salvage sales. 

B. Building Temperature Set Points

In order to maintain an environment that is conducive to the educational process, temperatures will be set in the following ranges:


Heating Day Set Points (7:00 am – 5:00 pm) 68-72 degrees
Heating Night Set-Back (5: 00 p.m.- 7:00 a.m.) 60 degrees
Cooling Set-Points 75-78 degrees (an increase from the previous level of 72-75 degrees). Central cooling systems will deliver chilled water when the outdoor temperature is 65 degrees, an increase from the previous level of 60 degrees. Building Automation Schedules will be coordinated with classroom needs, specialized equipment needs, plant/animal needs, laboratory needs and approved special events, but generally not in response to personal preferences. The following list identifies buildings that are part of the central control system.

BuildingCentral HeatingCentral Cooling
Jeh Vincent Johnson
ALANA Cultural Center
Athletic Fitness CenterNoNo
Class of 51 ObservatoryNoYes
College CenterYesYes
Computer CenterYesYes & Ind
KautzYesYes & Ind
LoebYesYes & Ind
MuddYesYes & Ind
New EnglandYesPartial
Powerhouse TheaterYesNo
Sanders ClassroomYesYes
Sanders PhysicsYesNo
ShivaYesYes & Ind
Students BuildingYesYes
2500 New HackensackNoNo

Heating Set-Points (5:00 pm – 1:00 am and 7:00 am – 9:00 am) 69-72 degrees and varies depending on outside air
Heating Day Set Back (9:00 am – 5:00 pm) 65 degrees (except Jewett and Noyes)
Heating Night Set Back (1:00 am – 7:00 am) 60 degrees (except Jewett and Noyes)

The following list identifies residential facilities with central heating or cooling controls.

BuildingCentral HeatingCentral Cooling
Main (3-5)YesNo
Terrace Apts.NoNo
Town HousesNoNo
South CommonsNoNo

Winter and Spring Break (except Senior Housing – Terrace Apts, Townhouses and South Commons) 45-50 degree set point in all unoccupied spaces. If outdoor temperatures drop below 10 degrees building set-points will automatically increase to 60 degrees.

If temperatures are outside these ranges, report this to Buildings & Grounds/Service Response at Ext. 5555.

C. Transportation

The College will strive to reduce energy use and emissions in the fleet of vehicles used by various departments. Environmentally-friendly equipment in terms of energy use and emission production will be investigated. This will include the use of alternative fuels, or the purchase of vehicles with low CO2 emissions, such as hybrid vehicles.

D. New Construction/Renovations

Alternative energy sources such as passive solar heating and heat recovery should be considered as well as day lighting and other strategies for decreasing building energy consumption in accordance with green building concepts. Primary consideration should be given to connecting and /or extending central systems for heating, cooling and other electrical and lighting systems. Year-round cooling needs should be met by utilizing the most energy-efficient systems. All new construction /renovations should include utility metering (electricity, natural gas, steam and water) and should consider energy-efficiency as a component of building design.

E. Residence Life

The VSA and the Residential Life Office can be important partners in encouraging energy awareness and responsible use by students.

Personal appliances brought to the College by residents, such as compact refrigerators and microwaves, must be Energy Star products. All appliances must be unplugged during winter and spring breaks.

Students should be strongly advised to bring compact fluorescent bulbs. If other types of bulbs are used, students should be encouraged to exchange them for compact fluorescents to be provided by Buildings and Grounds.

F. Procurement

The Purchasing Office will seek out energy-efficient products for central college purchases. Purchasing will also advise offices and departments on discretionary items where energy-efficient alternatives may exist.

Energy-efficient products should be purchased whenever possible. Energy Star offers more than 40 categories of products that use less energy, save money and are environmentally friendly. Products include: appliances, heating and cooling devices, home electronics, and office equipment. Recyclable and reusable products should also be purchased when feasible, to reduce disposal costs.

Equipment supplied by vendors for use on the College campus, such as washer/dryers and vending equipment, should be Energy Star compliant. Contracts should, if possible, include a surcharge for vendors that do not provide Energy Star – compliant equipment when such equipment is available.

The College will actively investigate renewable sources of energy as well as long term contracts for the purchase of fuel.