Behind the Power Up

Can you imagine getting the energy for an entire building for free?  How about four new buildings?  That is essentially what our aggressive energy savings initiatives have produced; enough energy savings to completely offset our four newest buildings.  Even more impressively, the energy savings exceeds those four buildings with an additional campus-wide 7.9% reduction compared to our 2014 baseline.  So how did we accomplish this?

The Campus Management Office (CMO) never stops looking for new ways to save energy.  One of their biggest splashes was the installation of a backup cooling tower system to gain greater efficiencies when the large cooling system is not needed.  This initiative is expected to increase the overall plant efficiency and save an estimated 1.8 million kWh annually. A complementary project in the library focusing on the air distribution system now allows for remote access for maintenance staff by converting the existing air flow systems to become network-controlled, meaning that they can now self-adjust based on the occupancy of the spaces. The new system has multiple virtual thermostats with QR codes in the open-plan areas so that users (students!) have more control over the fresh air supply.  This new system will save  around 110,000 kWh per year, but more importantly, should make the open spaces much more comfortable.

Another exciting project, which should be completed 2025, will retrofit the existing lighting in staircases, install occupancy sensors for all common areas, upgrade the existing lighting design for sports facilities, apply LED lighting for all the common areas with occupancy and photo sensors and to cut the power of air-conditioning units appropriately. In addition to the lighting improvement, smart lighting technology, which uses the Zigbee communication protocol, was applied to cut the lighting for powering book aisles in the library. A pilot project of emergency lighting will allow lights to gradually dim when there is no activity in toilets, long corridors and common areas.

To better understand energy consumption in different part of the campus, roughly 1,000 wireless energy meters were installed using LoRaWAN (stands for Long Range Wide Area Network) as a wireless communication protocol to send real-time data into the building management systems.  These meters can send a range of data such as temperature, humidity, and occupancy to help plan for better energy management and controls.

These projects are helping save energy, but importantly, they are also reducing our contribution to greenhouse gas emissions.  While everyone can work on projects like these, we can all take small actions to help, as simple as switching off the lights and air conditioning when you leave a room! For more energy data about campus consumption, you can click here to read further. 

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