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Energy policy changes the temperature at UNC

It might be cooler this winter inside buildings at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill under a new policy that aims at saving both energy and money.

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — It might be cooler in buildings at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill this winter, thanks to an energy-use policy adopted in July.

Under the new policy, technicians in the operations center monitor heating and cooling systems around campus and turn off systems when buildings are empty.

The effect is that offices and classrooms are cooler in the winter and warmer in the summer.

Administrative assistant Gena Everhart said she changed her work wardrobe slightly to make herself comfortable under the new policy.

"You change the way you dress slightly. You get to use to it. You adapt," she said.

Chris Martin, UNC's director of energy management, said the new policy puts everyone on the same page about saving energy.

"We wanted a consistent approach across all of campus with an effort to reach out and educate people as to what actions they could take to save energy," Martin said.

University officials said the energy-use plan is already saving money. They expect that within a few years, it will cut annual costs by nearly $4.5 million.

The policy allows exceptions for places, such as laboratories and holding areas for animals, where it's critical to maintain a certain temperature.

Martin said he hopes the policy also creates habits that employees take home.

"Because I live with it here for most of the day, it's not a problem to do it (at home)," Everhart said. "I do think it's worth it. I think it's a small price to pay for a much larger savings overall."