From new traffic light bulbs to turning off computers, Carbondale has become more energy-friendly over the past year.
The city received the Act on Energy Most Progressive City Award from the Ameren Corporation Oct. 24, which goes to cities that have shown the most progress to become energy efficient, said Leigh Morris, Ameren spokesperson. Businesses in the city cut about 1.3 million kilowatt hours of energy consumption in one year, primarily through improved efficiency in lighting, according to a press release. The amount of energy saved was a 6 percent increase from the previous year, which was the highest change in the region.
Morris said the company gives out six awards each year within the state. He said he thinks the award encourages towns to become more energy efficient.
Some city leaders said they are pleased with the recognition.
“It encourages people in town that a company like Ameren is noticing that we are making an effort to cut back (on energy),” Mayor Joel Fritzler said.
Fritzler said he tries to promote energy efficiency while at work.
“You can ask most employees at City Hall, and they’ll tell you I’m the energy fuehrer,” he said.
Fritzler said he tells his co-workers to turn off computers when not in use and to close the windows in the summer for lower air conditioning costs.
City Councilman Don Monty said the city has made progress to use energy more effectively.
“We have some very large energy users, and they substantially reduced their energy use, and that would have
an impact on the overall community,” he said.
Monty said the city has become more energy efficient through changes such as the new LED bulbs in traffic lights and adjustments to City Hall’s air conditioning system.
“It’s something the whole community should be proud of,” he said. “I personally don’t think it’s something where just the city should take credit.”
Illinois ranks fourth in the nation in total net electricity generation, and Monty said this is the first time Carbondale has received the award.
While the award went to the city, the SIU community has worked to make itself more energy efficient as well.
“We certainly meet energy code when it comes to new work,” said Justin Harrell, an electrical engineer at the SIU Physical Plant.
Harrell said some campus areas are not as energy efficient as others because they have older buildings. He said energy efficiency was not a concern when the buildings were constructed.
The campus’ energy conservation has improved with LED lighting installment and ensuring new buildings, Harrell said, such as how the new Student Services building will use methods to consume less energy.
Harrell said the best way students and faculty can conserve energy is to turn off lights when they are not needed. He said faculty can also make sure computers are turned off or in stand-by mode when not in use, and students should try to minimize space heater use in university housing.