Environmental Sustainability

Energy Conservation

The University’s commitment to proactive energy conservation goes back to 1994 and has intensified in the years since. Testimony to our leadership, dedication and success in conservation and sustainability are the awards received. Most recently, the UW Facilities Services and Capital Projects Office won the 2005 Mayor’s Environmental Leadership Award, an award program sponsored by the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce and Seattle Public Utilities.

Our success depends on community support, partnerships with public utilities, and active pursuit of new measures. Individual students, faculty and staff members are vital players in conservation successes. The individual role in energy management features adjustments in personal behavior, especially in computer use, lighting and equipment utilization, and fume hood operation. We - and the environment - continue to need your individual efforts. Be aware and be active in protecting the future.

Recycling, Composting and Waste Reduction

The University of Washington is a leader in waste reduction. Each year, the University redirects an increasing amount of waste from local landfills toward recycling facilities and other organizations that give materials a second life. These efforts resulted in a 56% diversion rate in 2010, and the University aims to reach 60% by 2012.

Reducing waste starts with each of us. The University provides a number of programs on campus to aid in recycling, composting and waste reduction efforts. However, it is reliant on its community members to reach these sustainability goals. It is important for each of us to take responsibility for how we think about what we discard. Together, we are bringing about change that benefits our University and our planet.

Cooling Season

The Pacific Northwest is blessed with a predominately temperate climate during the summer months. Most of our buildings, especially the older campus buildings, do not have air conditioning. Nonetheless, unseasonably warm weather does occur. The hot days can be especially difficult for those unaccustomed to high temperatures.

When those unusual hot days occur, keep your space as cool as possible. Turn off all unnecessary lighting and electrical equipment. Even small appliances such as fax machines and shredders generate heat. If you are in an air-conditioned facility, do not open windows or doors for additional air flow. The effect is to draw the cool air to the outdoors.

Tampering with individual ventilation controls or installing air-conditioning units in individual spaces must not be done by building occupants. Ventilation supply and exhaust systems are increasingly sophisticated; any adjustment can have a deleterious effect on the system’s overall performance. Installing an air-conditioning appliance can compromise structural integrity as well as ventilation for surrounding spaces.

Heating Season

During winter months, the effects of heating conservation measures are felt by students, faculty and staff. Building temperatures are set for a nominal 68 degrees F. Interior temperatures fluctuate, however, due to weather conditions and/or building configurations.

If you believe that your work space is not maintaining a minimum temperature of 68 degrees, please notify Physical Plant at #5-1411. An Environmental Controls Technician will measure the temperature and attempt to devise adjustments to correct the problem.

Do not try to solve your heat problem by using a space heater. Electric space heaters are prohibited in University facilities. Space heaters use as much electricity as 45 fluorescent lamps, so significantly increase expenditures for electricity. Further, space heaters can cause circuit overload, leading to disruptions to other electrical services. Most importantly, space heaters are a fire hazard. Persons who bring their own electric space heaters into University facilities may be liable for any damage or injury caused by malfunctioning or misused space heaters.

In the interest of energy conservation and safety, dress for the weather. In addition, take steps personally in computer use, lighting and equipment use, and fume hood operation to play your role in energy management.

Water Conservation

The University operates its water systems using the most efficient and environmentally friendly practices possible. Most measures undertaken during drought conditions continue as standard practice, including pursuing additional water conservation projects and putting a priority on identifying and accomplishing irrigation and cooling systems improvements.