Policies and Practices

The University of San Diego adheres to several policies and practices to meet the goals of the Climate Action Plan adopted in 2016.  These policies and practices specifically target the University's energy usage, as electric and natural gas consumption made up more than half of USD's 2010 carbon footprint. 

Vampire Energy

What is it? 

Vampire energy is the power consumed by electronic devices even when they are switched off, but still plugged in.  This is also known as stand-by energy or phantom energy.  


Vampire energy can account for 10- 15% of the University’s campus electrical consumption and the accompanying greenhouse gas emissions.  At the University of San Diego alone, eliminating vampire energy would result in annual savings of $430,000- $640,000 and reduce greenhouse gas emissions over 700 mtCO2e.


Why is it bad?

All those devices left in, what the International Energy Agency calls ‘ready and waiting mode’ add up.  Globally, network-enabled devices consumed 616 terawatts of electricity in 2013, the vast majority of which went to powering them in standby mode. At the current rate, these devices will draw nearly double their current amount, reaching ~6% of global consumption by 2025. With up to 80% of their consumption going to maintaining a network connection, this “vampire power” or “phantom power” is extremely inefficient.


Additionally, according to a study by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Americans spend roughly $19 billion on inactive electronics or devices every year. So not only does vampire energy waste resources, it’s also costing us a ton of money. 


How can you make a difference? 

To combat vampire energy and climate change as a whole, be sure to remember to turn off and unplug items when you’re finished using them.  Consider plugging all non-vital electronics into a smart power strip that can be turned on and off- this practice will greatly reduce the amount of vampire energy you draw in.  Do this in your home AND office to really go the extra mile.

USD Temperature Standards

Energy conservation through efficient operation of building systems, including the implementation of temperature standards for university facilities, is essential to meeting the greenhouse gas emission reductions outlined in the University’s Climate Action Plan. The temperature set points adopted by USD include maintaining standard building temperatures at or above 70°F in the heating season, and at or below 74°F in the cooling season during occupied hours. Exceptions to these standards are made for non-standard buildings and extreme high temperature events. To learn more about these exceptions, occupied hours, etc., read the full Temperature Standards document.
temperature gauge set at 71 degrees

As a USD community member, please help to minimize campus energy consumption via the following: Maintain thermostats within the prescribed ranges (in areas where temperature cannot be controlled by the building automation system); adjust attire as appropriate to indoor environmental conditions; ensure that windows and exterior doors are closed; and avoid the use of personal space heaters.

Any employee that finds the temperature within her/his work area outside the temperature ranges specified above may contact the Facilities Help Desk at x4250 to request an assessment of the heating and cooling system supplying the area.