Power Down for Winter Energy Setback 

Campus Sustainability Office November 27, 2023

December 25th 2023 - January 1st 2024

Dear Cornell Staff and Faculty,

Whether you are working on campus or remotely, we encourage you to power down your workspaces over winter break. Please join your colleagues in saving energy within your offices, labs, and common areas before you leave campus. Each year, your participation in Cornell’s Winter Energy Setback avoids powering unused electronics, heating unoccupied buildings, and lighting empty offices. This collective action saves a huge amount of energy on campus, reduces our university’s carbon emissions, and minimizes our use of natural resources – critical steps toward our goal of achieving carbon neutrality on the Ithaca campus by 2035.

Please take the following key actions in spaces you occupy:

  • Switch off power strips and unplug any electronics plugged directly into the wall
    Many devices use electricity even when “turned off,” including computers, TVs, printers, chargers, copiers, coffee makers, microwaves, lamps, and space heaters.
  • Close & lock all windows and close shades
  • Shut all interior and exterior doors
  • Set your thermostat on the minimum setting (around 65°F), if easily adjustable
    Do not turn heat off.
  • Turn off lights
  • Shut the sash completely on all fume hoods that cannot be hibernated
    Contact your facility coordinator to have a fume hood hibernated, if it will be unused for 6+ weeks.
  • Report facilities issues like leaky faucets, running toilets, overly hot or cold rooms
    Contact FCS Customer Service with questions: fcsinfo@cornell.edu
  • Remind colleagues and students to take these actions before they leave too

Our collective actions help the campus run more efficiently. Last year, building energy reductions during winter break totaled 3,300 MMBtu (electric and heat), saving the university over $75,000. Over one week, our campus energy savings were equivalent to eliminating 133 homes’ electricity use for one year, growing 11,300 trees for 10 years, switching 25,900 light bulbs to LEDs, or avoiding the consumption of 77,100 gallons of gasoline. The impact is huge – over the past decade, campus participation in this program has saved the university over $1.2 million in energy costs.

If you have a hybrid or remote work arrangement, check out Sustainability Life Recipes from the Campus Sustainability Office for more ideas on how to save energy in your home office. Thank you for your continued efforts to save energy and reduce carbon emissions on campus. 

I wish you all a warm and joyful winter break.

Rick Burgess
Vice President, Facilities and Campus Services Cornell University