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Various suggestions make "cents"

11/20/2008

As of Nov. 13, more than 207 people had submitted 263 ideas to save costs through Miami University's "This Makes Cents" Web site, www.muohio.edu/ThisMakesCents. The site is open to all and suggestions come from faculty, staff, students and even a couple of alumni and parents.

Submissions are directed to 15 areas, including Miami's Hamilton and Middletown campuses. Housing, dining and guest services (HDGS), for example, already had a committee representing all areas of the department with a charge to review any and all cost-saving suggestions. "We are taking a grassroots approach within the department to give everyone an opportunity to give us their ideas," says Cathy Pierce, HDGS senior director, administrative and human services. Ideas from the Web site are sent to this committee.

More than one person suggested eliminating trays in the dining halls, an idea that has received a lot of press recently in other parts of the country. "In some of our operations, such as Hydrations in the recreational sports center, we have made the change," says Pierce. In others, trays are required because of the way dishes are collected for washing. Other factors include convenience to seating areas and types of food containers.

"Other approaches to reducing food waste include portion control and education of the consumer," she adds. "Well-prepared and good tasting foods reduce waste." Also, the division has begun replacing dish machines with new units that use less water and energy.
Many suggestions also have been made to turn off lights and electronics when no one is in a room and to install motion sensors for lighting.

Miami's Unplugged 2008 contest among residence halls shows how much of a difference this energy awareness can make. The top winner, Stoddard Hall, saw a nearly 83 percent reduction in energy use during the October contest. Total savings to the university for all participants was $18,671 (see related story in today's e-Report).

As new buildings are constructed, motion sensors are standard, with Miami's new School of Engineering complex as a good example. Motion sensor lighting is in all public spaces of the complex, including classrooms, offices and corridors, says Jack Williams, senior project architect and manager. Sensors in the classrooms, he adds, reduce ventilation if no one is there. Similar measures are planned in other new construction, including the business school.

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