Realigning Our Wheels

By Annie Cheng

It’s happened to everyone at some time or another. You’re in the elevator and ready to go up to the tenth floor. Suddenly, a student shuffles in and presses button number two. Oh no, he didn’t. Oh yes, he did. He did decide to take the elevator a single floor up, despite the fact that the entrance to the stairwell is right next to the elevator, despite the fact that he’s in almost perfect health (a few flights of stairs would bring that health to perfection), despite the fact that he’s carrying nothing but his backpack, despite his knowledge that he’s wasting your time. He’s not the only one. You, yourself have probably been an occasional perpetrator of this atrocity, one of hundreds of people who decides that taking the stairs—getting some good exercise, conserving the energy that goes into operating elevators, saving money used for elevator maintenance—is too much of a hassle.

We, the members of the Energy Team, also confess to occasionally taking the elevator when we don’t really need to. However, that is about to change very soon, because we’ve just decided that we are going to turn elevator dependence at this school upside down.

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This week at a meeting with our stakeholder, Sayros Yadgar, an Energy Engineer for UCLA Facilities, Cully Nordby was present to guide the members of Team Energy. All of us are completely new to the ART program, so Cully helped us through the process of picking a project that we all found interesting and exciting, as well as one that is useful to our stakeholder and our greater campus. Because our previous project idea - increasing the use of Ecomills in the John Wooden Center - was not as relevant to our stakeholder as we had hoped, we reopened the floor for discussion on other potential projects. After several minutes of conversation about reducing elevator usage, a topic we had previously not given much thought to, we realized that we had a feasible project that everyone wanted very much to work on!

In the coming weeks, we plan to explore how other campuses and facilities have reduced elevator usage, contact building managers to get permission for data collection at a few buildings on campus, collect data, and calculate current energy consumption associated with elevator usage. Using our findings, we will plan and execute a school-wide campaign to reduce elevator use and encourage the healthier, more sustainable option of stairs!