For the 13th year in a row, Virginia Tech exceeded its goal for its annual Lights Out!/Power Down! event hosted by the Division of Campus Planning, Infrastructure, and Facilities

On June 23, members of the university’s Blacksburg campus came together to reduce their collective energy use for 90 minutes to test their ability to mitigate a loss of power, if necessary. 

By leveraging complex building automation systems, turning off certain lights and unplugging noncritical electronics, and more, the university reduced its Blacksburg campus' electrical power demand to an average 17,400 kilowatts. The demand goal for this year’s test event was 17,500 kilowatts. The peak energy use that day — prior to the event — was marked at 26,500 kilowatts.

“The university community reduced their total electrical power demand by over 9,000 kilowatts. The typical household, for example, draws less than 3 kilowatts of power on average.” said Steve Durfee, campus energy manager. “Exceeding our power demand goal for every year we’ve run the Lights Out!/Power Down! event is a testament to our division’s adaptability and the university community’s commitment to sustainability.”

The Lights Out!/Power Down! event is part of the Interruptible Load Reliability energy reduction program. The program is part of Virginia Tech’s agreement with PJM Interconnection - the Commonwealth of Virginia’s regional electric transmission grid operator - and is managed by the Virginia Department of Energy and administered by CPower.    

As both a large consumer and a producer of electricity in the region, Virginia Tech’s participation in the Interruptible Load Reliability program helps mitigate the loss of power in the surrounding community during times of high energy use, such as a hot and humid summer afternoon. The Lights Out!/Power Down! event allows the university to test its ability to reduce energy consumption to accommodate redistributed energy necessary to support the community, if needed.

Also during this year’s Lights Out!/Power Down! event, the Division of Campus Planning, Infrastructure, and Facilities partnered with Hokie Wellness and Rec Sports to provide free outdoor wellness activities to encourage using the time to unplug both literally and metaphorically. Events included a group walk, yoga, and mindfulness meditation. 

The Lights Out!/Power Down! event is an annual opportunity for Virginia Tech students and employees to consider the ways their energy consumption affects their immediate communities and the Earth. 

The university continues to strive toward becoming a carbon neutral and 100 percent renewable electricity campus by 2030. Learn more about the Virginia Tech Climate Action Commitment online

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