With the spring semester ending in a few months, students are making break plans and some universities are taking a close look at their buildings to see where they can save energy during the hot, laid-back days of summer. The University of Montevallo in Alabama is one, as noted by the Shelby County Reporter:

"Beginning June 7, the school will be open from 7:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Thursday. The move will allow university officials to shut down air conditioning units in most school buildings between Thursday nights and Monday mornings, which will reduce the university’s utility bills."

The school hopes to save more than $4,600 per day in energy costs, even as employees continue to put in regular 40-hour weeks, and it's one of many colleges cutting costs and carbon emissions by consolidating schedules.

For example, during the past two summers, California State Polytechnic University (CPP) in Pomona, CA, has switched to a 4 day/10-hour work schedule, similar to UM. Dr. Kyle Brown, director of the Center for Regenerative Studies, notes, "in 2008 we had 9 days of closure from this program and estimated that we reduced emissions by approximately 240 metric tons of ECO2, or 0.4% of all annual emissions."

Not only are there savings on the part of the university, but recession-slammed employees can also benefit. Brown adds that, "given the high price of gasoline in the summer of 2008, we estimated the total savings to CPP staff from this program to be approximately $40,000." (Of course, this assumes that staff didn't use their newfound day to get in a little extra shopping.)

Published: March 11, 2010