While students leave campus for summer, UT keeps operations normal

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Although there are fewer students on campus during the summer, UT continues to operate at its regular pace.

Despite enrollment dropping to around 16,000 students during the summer, there is not a significant drop in the amount of energy and water usage on campus because of hot temperatures and several departments that are still operating with the same number of staff.

Facilities Services spokeswoman Laurie Lentz said the energy and water rates do not change because of the climate.

“The hot summers raise the demand for electricity and water,” Lentz said. “So where we really see the lowest usage is in the winter months.”

Summer air conditioning accounts for energy usage remaining at fall and spring semester levels. According to Lentz, the buildings still need to be cooled despite less students and faculty members using them during the summer. Water usage does not drop-off because of the increased need for irrigation during the summer months.

“We’ve greatly improved the irrigation system, but nevertheless some irrigation has to take place,” Lentz said.

Unlike the number of students and faculty members on campus, the number of staff workers on campus does not decrease during the summer. According to Lentz, some departments are busiest during the summer.

“The staff numbers don’t fluctuate as much as the student and faculty numbers,” Lentz said. “For example, Project Management and Construction Services, summer is actually their biggest time of the year.” 

With class in session during the summer, the University offers on-campus housing to students as it does during the fall and spring semesters. According to Laurie Mackey, Division of Housing and Food Service administrative services director, approximately 400 to 600 students live on campus during the average summer.

Because of the low number, the University does not operate the dormitories on the northern side of campus, including Duren, Carothers and others. However the University continues to operate Brackenridge, Prather, Roberts and San Jacinto dorms for summer on-campus housing. Jester is used throughout the summer for Freshman Orientation.

Besides summer school and orientation, UT also plays host to various camps and conferences during the summer. According to Mackey, approximately 12,000 people attend a camp or conference held at the University. These tenants are also housed in Jester. These events range in focus from poetry and social justice to ballet and rowing.

Mackey said the DHFS retains their staff during summer. She said because Jester has to be constantly cleaned between orientations, camps and conferences, the DHFS staff from the closed dorms are relocated to the south side.

The DHFS also operates Jester City Limits and Market, the Jester Second Floor Dining Hall, Cypress Bend Café and the Littlefield Patio Café during the summer.

Lentz said the campus could potentially bring down the energy and water usage numbers, if each person on campus made small efforts to conserve. Lentz said in a recent one-day campaign by Facilities Services in April, students were encouraged to use less electricity for one hour resulting in campus power usage dropping by 2.7 percent.

“It would certainly help if people conserve and don’t have their thermostats turned up. I think that we really can make an impact,” Lentz said. “If everybody did a few things, it would certainly help.”

Follow Jacob Kerr on Twitter @jacobrkerr