The "Shut the Sash" campaign is an energy-reduction campaign run in labs at HMS.
Why Fume Hoods?
Fume hoods actually account for much more energy use than you might expect, since the fan that operates the hood is only a small fraction of total energy use. Most fume hoods at HMS operate on a "variable air volume" system, which means that the speed of the air circulating into the hood remains constant regardless of how high the sash is open but the volume of air will vary depending on the size of the face opening. So, the larger the fume hood opening, the larger the volume of air circulated through the hood, and since most of this air comes from outside the building it must be heated and cooled, using significant amounts of energy.
If the fume hood is not in use, keeping the sash wide open WASTES about $1,500 in energy costs per year per hood, about the same as the average US household.
The Harvard Office for Sustainability, at the time called the Harvard Green Campus Initiative, and HMS Facilities & Operations ran "Shut the Sash" campaigns in five buildings during late spring 2005, reaching out to hundreds of labs across campus. The campaign was run as a contest among labs, with a "Wine and Cheese Party" as the prize. The contest tapped into the innate competitive spirit of HMS researchers, and brought some fun to the campaign by getting people to notice the messaging and to encourage behavior change for a month, which eventually became a habit.
"Shut the Sash" magnets were placed on each fume hood as a behavioral prompt, and other outreach was conducted through posters, flyers, and emails. Regular visual audits were conducted in the building as well, which allowed for personal contact with lab managers and strengthened the overall campaign.
As a result of the campaign, the average sash opening in the five participating HMS buildings dropped from 12 inches to 2 inches. This campaign alone saved HMS over $100,000 in energy costs per year and prevented nearly 1.2 million pounds of greenhouse gas emissions—the equivalent of removing roughly 120 cars from the road.
Visual audits following the competition indicated that 89 percent of the fume hood sashes were shut even one month after the contest ended. This is greatly increased from the pre-intervention visual audits which indicated that only 30 percent of fume hood sashes were shut when the hoods were not in use. Such metrics are good indications of lasting behavioral change. However, due to the constant influx of new researchers in labs, ongoing "Shut the Sash" campaigns are necessary in order to ensure that new researchers develop smart, energy-friendly habits of shutting the fume hood sashes when they are not in use.(photo credit: licensed under Creative Commons Share Alike, by Joshua Ryan Smith)