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Ralph Nader > In the Public Interest > Moification Saves Energy

Ohio State University, na­tionally known for its foot­ball team, may soon receive national recognition for its remarkably easy success in reducing its fuel and elec­tricity consumption.

In fact, the Ohio State story, and others like it, may finally bring Washing­ton around to giving energy conservation top priority as the way to make the econo­my more efficient, less pol­luting and less reliant on imports and atomic energy.

IN 1973, before the oil embargo, Ohio State saw its energy bills rising at a rate of 15 percent per year. A study recommended sur­veying and retrofitting 50 major energy-using buildings to save energy.

Then came the follow up action. One retrofitted medical building’ showed a 78 percent reduction in natural gas consumption and a 43 percent reduction in electricity consumption over a year. Cost savings amounted to about $60,000 a year.

The retrofitting costs of about $30,000 were paid back in about six months and the university is now netting $60,000 annually from its modest investment.

Equipment modifications have been performed on five more buildings with average savings of 36 per­cent in electricity use and 61 percent in natural gas consumption. The universi­ty figures a recovery in only 7.4 months of its total investment in modifying six buildings, with a minimum return of $333,938 there­after.

If other commercial buildings around the coun­try depend on oil or elec­tricity for heat instead of natural gas as used in the Ohio State buildings, the economic benefits of modi­fying such buildings to save heating energy are even greater.

The principal opposition to energy conservation comes from those energy and electricity companies who see energy-saving by large and small consumers as reducing their sales. Oil companies adore those gas-guzzling automobiles. Elec­tric utilities, through their promotion and rate struc­tures over the years, have glorified in the profits of wasteful uses of electricity.

Just consider the poten­tial of energy conservation. If the United States was as efficient in energy use as industrialized, affluent Sweden and West Germany, the economy could nearly double in size on the energy it now consumes. Those two European countries, no paragons of efficiency are still twice as efficient per capita as this nation.

Studies by the World-watch Institute, the Ameri­can Institute of Architects, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Univer­sity of California, to name a few, have shown how about half of our energy consump­tion could be saved through known and relatively minor equipment and use modifi­cations.

The California study also showed that energy conser­vation creates more jobs even though it is more effi­cient overall for the econo­my than large capital in­vestments in atomic and other forms of energy.

For further information on energy conservation write to the Worldwatch Institute, 1776 Massa­chusetts Ave. NW, Wash­ington, D.C. 20036 and to the American Institute of Architects, 1735 •New York Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20006.