Green Campus organizers for the 'Shut the Sash' campaign set up a booth outside Baker Science from Jan.17 to 19, 2023. Credit: Leila Touati | Courtesy

Cal Poly Green Campus created the Shut the Sash campaign, encouraging students who work with fume hoods during chemistry labs to close the sash when not in use.

The goal is to effectively slow down the energy consumed in the Baker Science building.

A fume hood is a piece of equipment used in chemistry classes to protect students and staff from hazardous and toxic chemicals used during labs. The ventilated enclosure exhausts and catches chemicals to release into the atmosphere.

The 111 fume hoods in Baker Science take up significant energy, especially when the sash – or window – is lifted when using a fume hood for long periods of time.

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Video by Madison Vernon

From Jan.17 to 19, student interns from Green Campus set up in front of Baker Science to advertise their new campaign, handing out flyers and infographics to encourage students to close the fume hood sash during their experiments. 

Mechanical engineering junior Karen Morales de Leon and Architecture sophomore Jeremiah Gallegos – both members of Green Campus – have spent time researching Baker Science since it was a Leader in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) certified building.

“The environmental certification shows that the building is energy efficient in both its occupational energy and its embodied energy,” Gallegos said. “Though, in recent years – as Baker has been running for about a decade now – its energy efficiency ratings have gone down and we pinpointed it to the fume hoods.”

According to Gallegos, a single fume hood left open and used improperly can use as much energy as three and a half houses in one year. 

Morales de Leon and Gallegos toured Baker Science and the fume hoods and compared them to other universities that were focused on slowing campus energy consumption.

Green Campus met with the University of Chicago to learn methods and receive feedback on their work. Later, when touring Baker Science, Morales de Leon used software on a laptop to see the direct energy depleted from a fume hood.

“We would be able to see the energy used up at that moment so it was really cool to see that correlation directly,” Morales de Leon said.

The Shut the Sash campaign originally started at the end of Fall quarter and is continuing to advertise through videos, graphics and magnets on the fume hoods aiming to restore Baker Science’s energy efficient levels. 

“It’s one of those things where a seemingly minor act or behavior can have a very big impact,” Gallegos said.