Reducing Campus Energy Costs with HVAC Optimization
Colleges and universities are greatly reducing energy costs energy bills by implementing chilled water plant optimization.
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The average 50,000 square foot campus building consumes more than $100,000 worth of energy each year. Lighting, ventilation, and cooling equipment consume the most electricity. As a result, these areas are among the best targets for finding energy savings. Many colleges and universities are reducing campus energy costs energy bills by 30% or more by implementing cost-effective energy-efficiency measures.

Short Term, No Cost Energy Efficiency Solutions for Reducing Campus Energy Costs

Many facilities have tight facility budgets and can utilize low- or no-cost ways to reduce energy expenditures.

Plug Load: Computers and other electronic equipment are everywhere in campus buildings and dorms, contributing dramatically to energy consumption and cost per square foot. For equipment that enables a low-power sleep mode after a period of inactivity, using these energy-saving modes can produce significant energy savings. Using smart power strips to shut off plugged-in devices such as printers, monitors, and kitchen electronics when not in use can also have a huge impact on reducing campus energy costs.

Student-led Awareness:  Several colleges and universities are successfully using no-cost and low-cost public awareness campaigns to reduce energy use on campus by reminding people to turn off the lights. People tend to take energy for granted and many are unaware of the opportunities they have to reduce energy use. These programs can help students and staff modify their behaviors and in turn see sizable campus energy consumption reductions.

Longer-Term Energy Efficiency Solutions for Reducing Campus Energy Costs

Longer-term energy-saving solutions may require slightly more extensive implementation and greater expenditures than the no-cost solutions above, but they can significantly cut annual energy costs and in a more consistent manner than the manual no- and low-cost solutions.

Lighting Upgrades: Supplemental to supporting improved energy-conscious behavior on campus, lighting systems upgrades can achieve dynamic energy savings. By installing energy-efficient LED lighting technology, campuses can lower energy consumption, decrease maintenance costs, and ultimately lessen wear and tear on heating and cooling systems. With a return on investment of less than two years in many cases, LED lighting also allows universities to implement upgrade projects in phases by building, campus or specialty.

Demand-Controlled Ventilation: Many large campus sites like auditoriums, gyms and lecture classrooms, and cafeterias are ventilated as if they are at full capacity. Ventilating such spaces based on actual occupancy greatly reduces energy consumption. Demand-controlled ventilation systems can be installed that will use carbon dioxide sensors to control the amount of outside air being supplied to a space based on occupancy. Less energy is consumed because the fans only run when outside air is needed.

Commissioning:  Investigating a building to ensure that its systems are operating appropriately and efficiently can yield significant energy savings. Over time, as campuses expand and equipment and systems change, buildings require tune-ups to maintain optimal performance. Studies have shown that continuously monitoring a building’s energy systems can lead to reductions of 25% in annual energy bills.  Savings primarily come from resetting existing controls to reduce HVAC waste while maintaining or even increasing comfort levels for occupants.

Efficient Water Use:  Low-flow faucets and shower heads as well as sink and shower controllers that automatically shut off after a certain length of time can help conserve water and energy used to heat hot water in recreation buildings.

Chilled Water Optimization: Campus cooling systems are notoriously inefficient but often go undetected as a source of savings. Most existing facilities have dialed-in operational setpoints and procedures meant to fulfill worst-case cooling requirements. This wastes significant amounts of energy.  Minimizing energy and water use can make a major contribution to reaching sustainability goals,  reducing campus energy costs and even qualifying for large utility rebates.

One such optimization platform is tekWorx Xpress®. A combination of adaptive control algorithms and Tridium Niagara N4 hardware, Xpress® algorithms continuously adjust chilled water plant equipment operation and key setpoints based on such parameters as occupancy level and outdoor temperature to maximize the system efficiency in real‐time while maintaining campus comfort cooling needs. Xpress® allows campus facilities to use less water to meet cooling and comfort needs.

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