Jul 07, 2020
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Bulldogs save energy

Last summer, a staff worker for the University Business Center wanted to keep some lights turned on in the Peters Building because it “looked nice.”

But the Energy Saving Bulldogs fought back.

While most students are out of school for the summer, the Energy Saving Bulldogs stick around for eight hours per day and do anything from turning off non-essential lights to handing out fliers about energy-saving tips.

In 2000, there was an energy crisis in California. The governor wanted to decrease the state’s energy needs. In order to meet the requirements, state institutions such as Fresno State needed to turn off non-essential lights.

Dick Smith, who directs the department of utility management, came up with the idea to hire four students. Smith wanted them to start turning things off on short notice.

At that time, the students were paid $7 each per hour, eight hours a day. As a result, the university’s energy bill dropped $100,000 in one summer, out of the $5 million bill per year.

“We’ve just been hiring them ever since,” Smith said.

This summer is going to be the ninth year for the Energy Saving Bulldogs. The students were discouraged the first summer the program started.

“They came to me after a couple of weeks and said, ‘We turn the lights out and as soon as we leave, they turn the lights back on,’” Smith said.

A month later, the students noticed a change. People around campus were leaving the lights off.

“Just their presence had caused people to start turning off the non-essential stuff,” Smith said.

A notice will be sent out about two weeks prior to summer stating that the Energy Saving Bulldogs program will continue.

The Energy Saving Bulldogs are easily identifiable; they wear T-shirts with Utilities Management written on them.

Erica Rivera, 19, a criminology major, started working for the Energy Saving Bulldogs two summers ago. She now works in the Plant Operations office, but said she wouldn’t mind going back to the team.

“I didn’t really know the campus very well,” Rivera said. “I got to know where all of the buildings were and where everything was.”

There is an even ratio of men and women in the group, but when it comes down to decision-making, Smith lets the females decide whether it’s safe or not with the lights off.

“Since they’re turning off lights, there are places on campus where you shouldn’t turn the lights off; it’s too dark,” Smith said.

If you let the guys decide whether to turn the lights on or off, they’ll be very macho and say, ‘Oh we can turn the lights off.’ But that’s not what I wanted. I wanted people to feel safe.”

Fresno State is signed up with a company called Internoc, which has a contract with the state saying that it will lower the amount of energy used by state affiliated organizations.

“In return, we get paid for participating in the program,” Smith said. “The more we can turn off, the more [money] we get.”

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