The Catholic Student Center (CSC) hosts weekly mass services for over 700 students and community members and provides free soup lunches. For many WashU students, it also offers a place to study and build community throughout the week. Brian Wieliczka is a graduate student who volunteers with the CSC, and over the past two years, he has been working with staff members Susan Quinn (Event and Operations Coordinator), Brian Power, and Jeff Bange (former and current Maintenance Supervisors) to reduce its energy consumption. Wieliczka has led three major projects that have not only reduced energy consumption but also saved the CSC $12,500 to date.
The CSC’s first project was to replace 500 light bulbs with LEDs in the Center and adjoining house where he and several other students and staff live. The project received $2,300 in rebates from Ameren, resulting in a cost of just $4,000. The CSC estimates that the new energy efficient bulbs will save $2,300 annually, which means it can recoup the project cost in less than 2 years. Wieliczka completed a similar LED retrofit project on outdoor lighting. The switch to LEDs cost $1,600 after a $500 rebate and will save the CSC another $500 annually in utilities.
Most recently, the CSC installed blown-in insulation in the CSC house’s attic and Jeff Bange sealed ducts and installed insulation in the garage to minimize heat and cooling losses. The project was completed in May, and summer savings far outstripped projections at $7,000. The graph below illustrates the cumulative energy savings from the three projects.
Wieliczka plans to continue energy efficiency projects and other sustainability efforts in the coming years. Future efficiency considerations include sealing windows, adding insulation in the roof connecting the CSC and house, replacing the chapel roof, and installing solar panels. CSC students and staff are also committed to reducing waste by offering reusable service ware at Mass & Soup events and to promoting biodiversity through their butterfly garden, which features native grasses and flowers.
If your organization or student group is making an effort to be more sustainable, let us know! Email Jen Thomas, Sustainability Coordinator, at email@example.com.