News

Penn Athletics Powers Down

January 30, 2017

Notice the new pre-game light show at the Palestra? The redesigned Hutchinson Gymnasium? The LEED Certified Weiss Weight Room? We caught up with the team responsible! Keith Maurer, Associate Director for Athletic Facilities, and Noah Gustkey, Assistant AD for Facilities, help manage the athletic facilities and keep our campus running. We learned more about what they do. Below is an edited excerpt of our discussion. 

What are your everyday responsibilities? 

Keith Maurer: Simplify things, oversee all the athletic facilities, work with the operations side to plan, schedule and operate our events, and make sure from a facilities standpoint that facilities’ needs for events, day-to-day practices, and other activities are taken care of. 

Noah Gustkey: I oversee the day-to-day operations and assist with capital projects and long-term planning. In total we manage 22 facilities. 

What are some actions you have taken to make the athletic facilities more sustainable and less energy-intensive? 

Keith: One of the bigger ones was most recently switching the Palestra lighting to LED lighting. Obviously it’s significantly more energy efficient and it also gives us the ability to turn the lights off and on whenever we want. And we can schedule them as well. This provides us with some unique programming like the flashing lights we do at the start of the games. 

Just yesterday we finished our last ozone washing machine conversion, so all our athletic washing machines are on an ozone washing system, which reduces water usage overall − specifically hot water usage, detergent amounts, and dry time. 

Noah: It reduces the amount of cold water used by about 20% and no hot water is needed at all. We estimate that we have roughly reduced our hot water usage by 2 million gallons every year, just in athletics and recreation, and reduced our overall water usage by 700,000 gallons. 

As part of the Century Bond Program, we have also changed out all our inefficient tubes and ballasts in Weightman Hall, Hollenback Center, Hollenback Annex, Ringe, and the remaining fixtures in the Palestra. 

Keith: We changed out our irrigation clocks to ones that are remotely accessible and have rain and weather data sensors. This allows us to program irrigation cycles to run rain or shine, or until there is a certain amount of water. And we can remotely turn off the irrigation systems from our phones. 

We’ve done a number of initiatives around the PennRelays and recycling too. In the past we used to hand out water bottles to all the athletes, but in the last three years we’ve done a water distribution method much like you’d see at a marathon where you have water cups on a table. We saw the amount of waste and water bottles that were everywhere and not empty, so we worked with the Athletic Eco-Reps program to do cups instead of bottles. 

Do you have any recommendations for the Penn community that uses your facilities for how they can reduce energy usage? 

Keith: Just being mindful of your space and turning lights off when you can. Keeping windows and doors closed and not propped open and getting full team buy-in to recycling in locker rooms, on road trips, and around campus. 

Any upcoming events we should be aware of? 

Keith: We’re going to do an event on Friday, February 10th at the basketball game [Men’s Basketball against Columbia, 7pm] as our big lead-in to the challenge. So make sure you come out to the game! 

To keep updated, view our Happenings here

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