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Energy Management actively involves the campus community in energy conservation practices.

Energy Management hosts programs and initiatives for the campus community as part of its commitment to fostering a culture of sustainability. These engagements aim to raise awareness, educate and actively involve the campus community in energy conservation practices. The following programs ensure a collective and concerted effort of energy efficiency and stewardship.

Holiday Energy Savings Initiative

Since 2005, NC State’s Holiday Energy Savings Initiative (HESI) has safely lowered building temperatures and utility costs in unoccupied campus buildings during the winter holiday period when the university is closed for about 10 consecutive days. 

What are the standard indoor temperatures for buildings on campus?

NC State’s Sustainability Standard Operating Procedures state that temperatures for occupied space should range from 68°F to 71°F for heating and 72°F to 75°F for cooling. While unoccupied, building temperature setbacks range from 55°F to 60°F for heating and 80°F to 85°F for cooling.

What does the term “setback” mean?

A setback refers to a scheduled time when a building’s heating or cooling setpoints are relaxed, allowing temperatures to drift downward in winter or upward in summer, during times when the building is less occupied. Setbacks can save a lot of energy while at the same time ensuring that the building is comfortable when needed.

A setback does not mean that the HVAC system is turned off completely. The HVAC system will continue to operate to maintain the relaxed setpoints. Many buildings at NC State utilize setbacks during nights and weekends throughout the year.

Will the electricity be turned off in my building?

No. Except for a scheduled maintenance outage, the electricity will not be intentionally interrupted in your building during the Holiday Energy Savings Initiative or any other campus break. 

How cold / hot will it get in my building?

During setback periods, your building could warm up to approximately 80°F or cool down to approximately 60°F, on average. Certain spaces in certain buildings could drift a little further than those setpoints, but indoor temperatures colder than 55°F or hotter than 85°F are unlikely.

Will the domestic hot water be available in the building during setbacks?

Yes, but water in some buildings may be lowered to a more efficient and safe operating temperature.  

Why don’t we turn buildings “off” over the break?

There are many reasons why the Facilities Division does not completely shut down buildings during campus breaks. Even if we could be assured that no one needed to use the space during that time, buildings need to maintain minimum levels of temperature control for frost protection and also for humidity control.

Will my potted plants die if I leave them over break?

It is very unlikely. As long as your potted plant is okay at 55°F, it should be fine from a temperature perspective.

What about my research laboratory / animal facility?

Research laboratories and animal facilities typically do not have setbacks. They operate with consistent temperature and airflow setpoints 24 hours, 7 days a week. Many experiments need precise temperature control, and animals need consistent temperatures as well. Also, researchers may use the space during nights and weekends, and the HVAC system is a critical part of laboratory safety. 

In the rare case of a research laboratory that currently has a night/weekend setback, the setback experienced during the Holiday Energy Savings Initiative will be the same.

What’s happening with residence halls?

Residence halls that are unoccupied already have setbacks in place and will remain that way until the beginning of the spring semester. Residence halls that are currently occupied (Wolf Village, Wolf Ridge, and ES King Village) will remain occupied (and thus not subject to temperature setbacks) over the winter break. Residence halls with individual room occupancy sensors (Tri Towers, Lee, Sullivan, and Bragaw) will automatically setback when unoccupied.

Are Libraries open?

Check the Libraries webpage for up-to-date information on Libraries hours.

What days does this apply?

Please see the December 2023/January 2024 calendar below for specific dates:

image of HESI calendar beginning Dec. 4 ending Jan. 14

Will exterior lighting be turned off?

Most nighttime exterior lighting (including streets, pathways, parking lots, tunnels, etc.) will remain on during HESI.

I did not submit an exemption before the deadline, my building is in a setback, and now I need to come into work. What should I do?

There is an occupancy override button in some buildings that can be used.  If you do not know where it is or if there isn’t one in your building, please call the Customer Service Center at 919-515-2991 who will be able to get in touch with the correct Facilities Division staff to make the change. Be prepared to tell them the building, room number, and when you need to be there.  Please keep in mind that if you are there for a short period of time, then we would prefer that you bring extra layers of clothing.

Will the HVAC system be turned back on earlier than the dates listed on the calendar?

The Facilities Division will begin returning HVAC systems to their normal temperature setpoints in buildings when the university reopens in January after the winter holiday. Facilities employees will conduct building walkthroughs to make sure that everything is functioning properly and that conditions are back to normal during that time, including restoring temperature setpoints and ventilation for classrooms and teaching labs.

Normal operating conditions will be in effect by the time the spring semester’s first day of classes begins.

Are space heaters allowed on campus?

According to NC State Law, portable heaters cannot be placed in state-owned buildings as they pose a threat to safety. The only exception to this law is when the building’s main source of heat is inoperative. It is possible to have a heat study completed to determine if the building heating system is adequate. Have your building liaison complete a work request to have a heat study or call the Customer Service Center directly at (919) 515-2991.

Why do some buildings participate in HESI and others are exempt?

NC State has a great diversity of building ages and types, and the ability to control the heating and cooling varies from building to building. During the dates of university closure, Facilities are able to set back the temperatures in most buildings, but there are a number of exceptions. Research laboratories and animal facilities typically do not have setbacks either because of their specific needs.

The following list of space types and buildings will NOT receive any additional setbacks during winter break.

Automatically Exempt Spaces:

1 Administrative Services Annex
2 Animal Facilities (Polk, Scott, BRF, EBIII, David Clark, & Thomas)
3 Athletics Facilities (Doak Field, Isenhour Tennis Ctr, Reynolds Coliseum, Weisiger-Brown/Dail Basketball Ctr.)
4 Avent Ferry Technology Center (102, 111, 112, 118, 120, & hallway)
5 Broughton Diesel Wing
6 Broughton Music Wing (Rooms 1402, 1403, 1404, 2405, and 2411)
7 Burlington Basement
8 Centennial Biomedical Campus (College of Veterinary Medicine,Terry Center, CVM Research, Carter-Finley, & Indoor Practice Facility)
9 D S Weaver Labs
10 Dabney Hall
11 DH Hill Library
12 Gregg Museum and Gregg Museum Storage
13 Grinnels Lab
14 Holladay Hall – Suite A – Chancellor’s Office
15 Hodges Wood Products
16 Hunt Library Bookbot/Collections
17 JC Raulston Arboretum
18 Leazar Materials Lab – Room 220
19 Lonnie Poole Clubhouse and Maintenance Building
20 North Hall Food Pantry (Rooms 118, 119, 119A, 101, 102, & 103)
21 Park Shops DELTA area – Rooms 120-132C
22 Partners I, II and III
23 Phytotron
24 Plant Sciences – 5th Floor Greenhouse/Headhouse
25 Poe Suite 612 – Psychoeducational Clinic
26 Price Music Center
27 Public Safety Building
28 Pulp and Paper Labs
29 Research Laboratories
30 Research III – 3rd Floor – Natl Weather Svc
31 Riddick Hall
32 Robertson Wing of Biltmore Hall
33 Tenant spaces managed by University Office of Real Estate
34 Thompson Theater – AHU 5&6 – Piano Areas
35 Toxicology
36 Buildings not on Main, Centennial, or CBC Campuses

What is the exemption process?

The exemption process allows the Facilities Division to evaluate individual cases where there is a strong need for regular indoor operating temperatures during the holiday break. If your work can be done from home, or from one of the Libraries, please consider those options so that we can all save more energy on campus. If you truly need fully-conditioned HVAC in your space, then please submit an Exemption Request Form (deadline: Dec. 8) and clearly state the dates, hours and reason for your request. Exemption requests will be reviewed by the exemption review committee and either be granted or declined. Submitters will be notified.

To date, the program has saved the taxpayers of North Carolina more than $6 million. Browse the results report here for more information.

Summer Energy Savings Program

Utility costs are among NC State’s largest expenses, and summer presents a strategic opportunity to save energy, particularly during evening hours and on weekends when many classroom buildings are unoccupied. Campus buildings with classrooms are being reviewed for energy saving opportunities during Summer I and Summer II sessions. After the last scheduled class or event of the day (based on schedules provided by the University Registrar), air conditioning levels will be reduced so that the university is not paying to cool unoccupied spaces (research areas and other critical spaces are excluded from this initiative). When unoccupied, indoor temperatures will be allowed to increase up to 80ºF. These energy-saving settings, which occur mostly in the evenings and on weekends, will automatically adjust so that normal building temperatures are restored before the building opens the following morning.

Are labs or critical server rooms impacted?

Some teaching labs will be impacted, but labs designated for research are excluded from this initiative. Rooms with critical servers requiring precise climate control will also not be impacted by this initiative.

Why was my building chosen to be part of this summer energy saving initiative? 

Some of the university’s buildings have been equipped with sophisticated temperature controls that allow the air conditioning levels to be adjusted remotely and scheduled in advance. Buildings with this capability are part of this energy-saving initiative. Additionally, some of these buildings have HVAC systems programmed to automatically adjust based on events/courses listed in the university’s room scheduler (Astra).

Why do some buildings just have classrooms impacted and other buildings are impacted as a whole?

Some campus buildings are equipped with special zoning equipment that allows air conditioning levels to be adjusted in just classrooms while keeping surrounding offices, labs and lobby areas at normal operating temperatures. In those buildings, the temperatures in unoccupied classrooms might be setback beginning at, for example, 2 p.m. even though the entire building isn’t setback until 5 p.m.

Who is in charge of this initiative?

This initiative is a collaborative effort of the University Registrar, University Sustainability Office, Energy Management, and Building Maintenance and Operations. If you have questions or concerns about this initiative, contact This initiative is similar to the Winter Holiday Energy Saving Initiative that the university has done for more than a decade.

What do I do if I need to use a room during a time when the room’s temperature is in energy-saving mode?

Many buildings have a wall-mounted override switch, which will allow for a one-time override of the building’s energy-saving schedule. One switch is located on each floor and is identified by a gray sign:

ULT Freezer Energy Efficiency Rebate Program

Laboratory-grade ultra-low temperature (ULT) freezers operate at around -80℃, and conventional models can use as much energy as a house. Over the past few years, freezer manufacturers have developed new technologies that can reduce energy consumption by more than 75 percent without sacrificing performance or reliability.

Because high-efficiency freezers still have a higher price tag than conventional freezers, this program provides financial incentives for researchers to replace aging, inefficient freezers with high-efficiency models.

The ULT Freezer Energy Efficiency Rebate Program is now accepting new candidates for FY24. Eligibility is limited to NC State academic departments and NC State-affiliated researchers with laboratories on NC State Main, Centennial, and Centennial Biomedical Campuses.

To find out how to qualify follow the information and links below:

Larger freezers (>600L capacity) are rebated at a higher amount because they consume more energy than smaller freezers. Freezers that consume less than 0.30 kWh/day/cu-ft are also rebated at a higher amount.

Any freezer on the EnergyStar list consuming <0.30 kWh/day/cu-ftAny freezer on the EnergyStar list consuming 0.30-0.40 kWh/day/cu-ftVerified Disposal Of Old Freezer
>600 Liters capacity (21.2 cu ft)$3,500$2,500$1,000
<600 Liters capacity (21.2 cu ft)$1,750$1,250$500

To qualify for rebate, the ULT freezer purchased must be listed on the Energy Star Product Finder Lab Grade Refrigerators and Freezers webpage as a model consuming less than 0.4 kWh/day/cu-ft. (Since the EnergyStar database is updated frequently, we will no longer be listing the qualifying freezer models on this page.)

To motivate disposal of old freezers (rather than continuing to operate them in addition to the new one), Energy Management offers an additional incentive ($500 or $1,000 depending on freezer size) for the verified disposal of an existing freezer. This incentive is limited to one per new freezer. Whether the property is “traded in” with the vendor of the new freezer, or it is sent to NC State Materials Management as surplus property, the university’s procedures for trade-in (Transfer, Trade-in, or Sale of University Assets) and surplus (Surplus Property Services) must be followed. Provide paperwork verifying the disposal of the freezer as part of your rebate application. This should be either the Approved Trade-In Disposal Number or the Surplus Request.

Note: Simply transferring the freezer to another entity on campus does not qualify for the disposal rebate. The objective of the disposal rebate is to remove the old equipment from campus.

The program works as a multi-step process.

  1. First, fill out a Pre-Application Form. You must submit a separate Pre-Application Form for every freezer purchase. Energy Management reviews this to ensure that the participant is planning to purchase a qualifying freezer and that there are remaining funds in the incentive program. Once approved, you will receive an email from Energy Management that contains a Unique Rebate ID. Once you have this, you may move to step 2.
  2. Purchase the qualifying freezer and pay for it in full. Make sure when submitting the purchase order that you are charging the purchase to an “equipment code”. That will help ensure that it receives an asset tag.
  3. Dispose of the old freezer, if applicable, and save paperwork related to the freezer’s disposal.
  4. Capital Asset Management (CAMS) will contact your Departmental CAMS Coordinator to tag equipment purchases (charges on 55310 accounts) within 4 – 6 weeks of payment. If the freezer qualifies as a piece of equipment (greater than or equal to $5,000) an asset id and tag number is assigned to the freezer and it becomes part of the department’s equipment inventory. If contact has not been made within this timeframe, please consult your Departmental CAMS Coordinator. Once you have the asset tag number, you may move to step 5.
  5. Fill out the Final Application Form. If you are retiring an old freezer, also send an email with the verification of proper disposal paperwork to
  6. Optional: please send us a brief testimonial about how you use a ULT freezer and a picture of your lab personnel posing with your new freezer to! By doing this you are granting us permission to post it on this website to build interest in the program.

If you have any further questions about the program or the process to participate, please email