Keene State struggles to address electricity usage

James Niedzinski

Equinox Staff


Despite Keene State College’s efforts to go green and use less energy, much of the campus is still behind the times.  Many students around during Spring Break may have noticed lights were still on in many of the administrative buildings as well as the dorm rooms.

Furthermore, many of the street lamps around campus still turn on around 4:30 p.m., despite it still being light outside.

Mary Jensen, Coordinator of Sustainability at KSC, addressed some of the energy issues on campus.

“Some things are just badly done.  For example, in the gym, you can’t turn one light on without turning them all on,” Jensen said.

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Jensen also noted one of the architects of the Science Center wanted the building to “look more alive,” and added more lights on the exterior of the building.

Paul Striffolino, associate vice president for Student Affairs, helped oversee the Student Center and Dining Commons.

Striffolino also noted that technology changes fast, and it is hard to keep up with newer, more energy efficient forms of technology.

“When dorms and other buildings use more than one different form of energy, it is impossible to tell what we are using more of, heat or electric,” Jensen said.

Yet another factor in KSC’s efforts to be more energy conscious is the lack of e-monitors or e-readers on a majority of campus buildings.  These devices and software would gather all energy-related data on a building and make it easily readable.

Bill Rymes, who has held the position of supervisor of plumbing and heating for 16 years, has been working to solve some of these problems for some time.

“I asked Honeywell to come up and give us an estimate of to how much new electrical readers would cost,” Rymes said.

According to Rymes, Honeywell, the company that is responsible for a large part of all the energy used at KSC, has offered its software for free.  The only thing the school would pay for is the engineer support, which would cost approximately $18,000 a year.

“We want to install these utility meters on all the facilities, which buildings use which type of energy more, and establish practices in those buildings,” Striffolino said.

Rymes added that there is nothing in place of the electrical meters currently at KSC.

“All this software would be integrated and work freely, and monitor the peak demand level.  This means that when a building reaches a set amount of energy usage, they are compensated for around campus without compromising comfort levels, it would all be automated and work together,” Rymes said.

Jensen addressed the financial concerns of the project.

“We are hoping to make changes by July 1, but the economy is tight, the budget is tight, and New Hampshire legislation is about to make major cutbacks to our schools,” Jensen said.

According to Rymes, other issues arose in the IT department at KSC.  He noted the software would require a new server, costing $3,000; yet the IT department is hesitant to include a new server.

“We had a meeting to discuss the server back in January, and they cancelled due to weather concerns.  From what I understand they have no intentions of rescheduling. IT is pushing it another year. There are concerns about the security of the Internet on campus,” he said.

In addition, he said, “To me it makes absolutely no sense, but then again I do not have a background in information technology. This is clearly a place the college needs to go, but everybody needs to be onboard.”

“It is clearly all the right things to be doing.  Sometimes we don’t move forward for different reasons,” Striffolino said.


James Niedzinski can be contacted at

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