Skip to Navigation
University of Pittsburgh
Print This Page Print this pages

September 28, 1995


Saving on utilities– a good idea

To the editor:

The article by Mike Sajna on the possibility of saving money on utilities tickled my interest and provoked my memory. Citing the high cost of electricity and steam heat, Glenn Avick, director of Engineering and Construction in the Office of Facilities Management said, "There are big bucks to be saved here." Well, I remember the last time I tried to save some of those bucks. To begin with, I happen to be a cold weather type. I prefer a room closer to 60 degrees than to 75. It's a quirk I have, and I try to cater to it, since if I don't, no one else will. Academically speaking, I find it harder to fall asleep in a cold room than in an overheated room, and I find that my lectures go better when I am awake while delivering them. Also, I find that putting 15 or 20 students into a room–not to talk of a hundred or more–will quickly heat that room up to a comfortable level.

Now, everybody knows how difficult it is to keep the Cathedral comfortable. Around the beginning of November, the temperature outside drops into the middle forties. It might even snow, but rarely does it freeze. But enter my office in the Cathedral in the morning, and the heat is like Florida in the summer. What in the world! Of course, the radiator is hot. I open the window, and immediately write a letter to then President Posvar. Does the University have to pay for the heating of Oakland's air? Some time later I receive a letter from somebody in Plant Maintenance saying that the heat has to be turned on at night because of the fear of the pipes freezing. The cost of repairing or replacing cracked or broken pipes in the Cathedral, I am informed, would be much greater than any money saved by not heating. I'm so surprised by the letter that I almost write one in response. Doesn't the man know that water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit [0 degrees Celsius]? Doesn't he know that any movement of the water lowers the freezing point–a flushed toilet or a dripping faucet will help. Doesn't he know that normal building warmth and insulation will lower the freezing point as much as 30 or 40 degrees, so that normal pipes in a home won't freeze until the temperature outside is close to or below 0 degrees Fahrenheit? And they can be helped with about half an inch of insulation. What about those exposed pipes near the loading dock on Forbes–I can't tell how thick the pipes are because they're all wrapped in several inches of insulation.

I never answered the man. Maybe I should have. But it was clear that he thought me a fool and I knew him to be, and so our correspondence ended.

Since then my old radiator had a new valve put on–but it doesn't shut off effectively, and so my office is still overheated and I have to open the window in the winter to help keep things comfortable.

But I still agree with Mr. Avick that more care with the utilities would save money.

Myron Taube

Professor Department of English


They'd like to conserve in Forbes Quad, but…

To the editor:

The University's recent expansion of its recycling program is to be commended, as are all such attempts to consume fewer and recycle more resources. The new initiative to curtail electric usage (University Times, Sept. 14, page 9) is similarly right-headed. Unfortunately, the planners of Forbes Quadrangle saw fit to deprive its occupants of many energy-saving opportunities. The several hundred offices in this dumb-by-design building have no light switches; a central computer turns all office lights on at 6 a.m. and off at midnight. This is especially frustrating for those occupants who understand that tight budgets are among the least compelling of the many important reasons to conserve resources.

S. Gaulin

Professor Department of Anthropology


A tribute from GSPIA faculty, staff, students

To the editor:

On behalf of the faculty, staff and students of the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, I want to pay tribute to the achievements and the spirit of James "Rip" Taylor, killed last Friday night in Lincoln-Lemington.

Apart from his long service as a police officer, "Rip" was a student in GSPIA. He was within a couple of courses of completing the graduate degree for which he had worked so hard. On finishing, he hoped to take up an administrative position in a municipality in Allegheny County. When I last talked with him, he spoke enthusiastically about the work he was doing at the University and was looking forward to his remaining classes.

His instructors and his fellow students will remember "Rip" Taylor as a lively, gregarious man, always willing to relate the experiences he had had to problems brought up in class. He enjoyed the company of other students, and they greatly enjoyed having him around. He was different: He was colorful. He engaged easily and warmly with others, and he quickly gained the affection of all who knew him.

Ironically, on the very day that we talked–for the last time –Mayor Murphy had spoken in the morning at the orientation for new students. The Mayor spoke with passion and eloquence about the value of public service and about the risks and rewards that it offered.

Now, less than a month later, we have this horror–this pure encounter between the spirit of public service and the risks stalking those who accept its vocation. In passing, as in his life, "Rip" Taylor has earned the greatest reward a public servant can earn–the respect and gratitude of those he served.

What a great guy. What a huge loss. How we will miss him.

Martin Staniland

Interim Dean

Graduate School of Public and International Affairs

Leave a Reply