The UNM Sustainabilty Studies Program, in cooperation with the Office of the President and the Physical Plant Department, has launched a campaign aimed at reducing electricity use on campus by 10 percent. Titled, "Education is Power," the program hopes to free up approximately $600,000 or more to help mitigate budget cuts that threaten the academic mission. An event to help bolster awareness for the campaign is set for Friday, Dec. 10 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Ballroom A of the UNM Student Union Building.

Due to the current economic situation in New Mexico and across the United States, there is no shortage of gloomy headlines about budget cuts. UNM is looking at a $25 million budget reduction heading into next fiscal year. Spending cuts are already underway. The time for drastic changes and innovation on campus is needed. To that end, the Sustainability Studies Program has been working to help develop an answer. The ‘Education is Power' campaign began this fall is seeking to reduce energy costs to save us from the pain of further funding cuts.

Going from classroom to classroom, students from Sustainability Studies classes 334 and 434 have been educating fellow students, faculty and staff about how to change behavior and cut electricity use. Changing behavior is not an easy task, but the Sustainability students are hoping that when faced with the choice of canceling courses or paying 20 percent more per year in tuition that fellow students will choose to switch off the lights. The ‘Education is Power' campaign hopes to push on all fronts using video, Internet, skits, presentations, campus events and word of mouth to ensure that its message is heard.

"I think the diversity of methods that our class is using allows us to be effective at multiple levels," said Sustainability Studies student Alyssa Johnson. "The Sustainability Studies program hopes the campaign will cut electricity use by 10 percent potentially saving the University $800,000, which can be used to help offset budget cuts. The campaign is also being used to fulfill the universities goal of becoming carbon neutral."

Sustainability Studies teacher Maggie Seeley, who believes in the importance of the ‘Education is Power' campaign, said, "By turning off the lights and using natural light, we not only save money but refrain from putting more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere."

The ‘Education is Power' campaign isn't just about switching off lights to save money, it is also about educating students about how much of an impact things like cooling/heating and phantom energy loads (appliances that are off but still plugged in still use electricity) have on the bottom line.

There are four behavior changes which faculty, staff and students can take to cut their energy usage:
1. turn off the lights;
2. pull up the blinds (to allow natural sunlight into the room);
3. turn off your power strip;
4. put a sweater on and turn down the thermostat.

While building solar panels, wind turbines and other alternative forms of energy are inherently important for becoming sustainable, changing behavior requires the least amount of capitol but can produce the biggest level of savings.

By using these behavior changes, faculty, staff and students can easily reach the 10 percent goal in energy consumption and save an estimated $600,000 to $1 million. The campaign hopes to complete its pilot stage during the fall semester and will then go full swing into reaching out to as many people as possible.

Throughout the event, Sustainability Studies students and staff will recruit visitors from the SUB and hold a raffle to put energy-saving devices to work in offices.

"Education is Power" - SUB Ballroom A
Friday, December 10, 2010

10 a.m. - Introduction: Dr. Breda Bova (Chief of Staff to President Schmidly)
10:20 a.m. - Provost Suzanne Ortega: Managing Budgetary Risks and the Academic Mission
10:40 a.m. - Mary Vosevich, Director, Physical Plant Department: Proven Successes and
the Sustainability Culture at UNM
11 a.m. - Student media presentation: Statistics of Budget Cuts and Energy Conservation
11:20 a.m. - Jake Wellman, student representative Board of Regents
11:40 a.m. - Kelly Williamson, ASUNM Representative: Students' Roles in Campus Sustainability
12 p.m. - Student media presentation: The UNM 10-10-10 Event & Climate Policy
12:20 p.m. - Denise Montoya and Norma Dye, Human Resources: The Sustainability Value in Staff Evaluations
12:40 p.m. - Student media presentation: Monopoly Game skit
1 p.m. - Student media presentation: James Bond Fights the Energy Phantom skit
1:20 p.m. - Student media presentation: Following Through with Education is Power
1:40 p.m. - Student media presentation: Communication: Hear and Be Heard

For a printable schedule visit: Education is Power Agenda.

Story by Daniel Marzec, student, Sustainability Studies 334

Media contact: Steve Carr (505) 277-1821; e-mail: