Higher Education

Higher Education

The higher education sector spends over $6 billion on annual energy costs and totals about 5 billion square feet of floorspace. Through the Better Buildings Alliance higher education group, 31 colleges and universities representing 380 million square feet of space are sharing best practices and engaging with technical experts to advance their energy savings goals.

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Team up with DOE’s exceptional network of staff and technical experts to determine energy savings goals, develop innovative cost effective energy solutions, and deploy efficient technologies and market practices.

COVID-19 Resource Center

Dealing with COVID-19 presents an unprecedented scenario for building owners, plant managers, and employees. Better Buildings has collected resources from partners, affiliates, and other organizations that may prove useful.

The Better Buildings Webinar Series

Dedicated to bringing you the latest actionable insights on today's energy efficiency landscape, the webinar series is a chance to explore the topics and trends that affect your organization with industry experts and your peers.

Featured Solutions

Better Buildings conducted a review of 45 Campus Energy Master Plans, Sustainability Master Plans, and Climate Action Plans developed between 2008-2018 to identify common features and best practices.
This toolkit provides guidance and strategies for reducing energy consumption in laboratories. Resources include guidance on ventilation flow rates, ultra low-temperature freezer specifications, case studies, and more.
The Community College of Allegheny County issued a request for qualifications (RFQ) for their new 90,000-square-foot Workforce Development and Training Center, which will feature smart classrooms, laboratories, and multi-use spaces. The RFQ includes specifications for constructing the center as a Net Zero Energy (NZE) facility.
Due to the location and student-centric focus, the Student Pavilion was selected to become the first Net Zero Energy building at ASU. The pavilion is expected to achieve 52% energy savings and provides an opportunity to demonstrate and teach Net Zero Energy and Zero Waste practices.
UC Berkeley's Energy Management Initiative (EMI) targets building occupants through building surveys and energy dashboards, and allocates energy cost responsibility to individual campus operating units to achieve savings of $6.5 million in just three years.
UC Irvine's integrated “Smart Lab” program improves lab energy efficiency through an array of control and sensor technologies; labs using this program can achieve energy savings of up to 60%.
UC Irvine's empirically derived technical and behavioral performance improvement program supports risk-taking and questions status-quo practices to produce exceptional results across the board.
sustainNU is Northwestern University's comprehensive occupant engagement program that encourages sustainable behavior, builds leadership capacity, and removes barriers to sustainable practices by leveraging certification programs, social media, outreach events, and friendly competition.

Other Resources

Case Study

Providing supply and exhaust air to laboratory fume hoods is highly energy intensive, yet many researchers forget to shut the sash after use. To address the confusion, a lab manager at the University of California designed a bold vinyl sticker to attach on the exterior sidewall of a fume hood that uses the ubiquitous traffic light color scheme. The low-cost project led to energy savings and safety benefits.

Guidance

Explore a variety of activities below tailored to your sector, from testing out an implementation model to joining a technology adoption campaign.
This document describes how to implement a fume hood sash management campaign.
This presentation addresses laboratory ventilation flow rates. 
This presentation illustrates how the University of Colorado optimized laboratory ventilation rates.
This guide describes procedures to operate ULT freezers efficiently and to improve sample access.

Implementation Models

Delaware State utilized previously restricted state appropriations to create a revenue-neutral debt structure, allowing for large-scale bond financing of efficiency projects and with current investments expected to yield $24.6M in savings over 20 years.
Atlanta's Emory University created WaterHub, an innovative on-campus solution designed to treat and reuse up to 400,000 gallons of water per day, decreasing potable water demand by over one-third. In addition to saving money, the WaterHub is creating scientific and educational opportunities on campus.

Reports

This report summarizes the results of a DOE Better Buildings Alliance field demonstration to show the energy savings possible with high-efficiency equipment.
This document provides highlights from Better Buildings Alliance members that have optimized minimum ACR to reduce energy use while maintaining or improving safety – especially cases where the ACR has been reduced below 6 ACH1.

Specification

This energy only specification provides a description of required performance characteristics resulting in increased energy savings for ULTs in laboratories.

Additional Information

ISO 50001 Energy Management Standard
A proven approach for U.S. industrial and commercial facilities to continually improve energy performance. This powerful new standard from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) provides an internationally recognized framework for organizations to voluntarily implement an energy management system.

U.S. EPA Guidelines for Energy Management
A proven strategy for energy management developed by the U.S. EPA ENERGY STAR program.

Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System (STARS)
A framework developed by AASHE for measuring and reporting an institution’s overall sustainability performance.

Green Revolving Investment Tracking System (GRITS)
Developed by the Sustainable Endowments Institute to help institutions track, manage, and share performance data for energy efficiency projects funded under a green revolving fund. The tool is available only to members of the Billion Dollar Green Challenge.

CarbonMAP
Track, analyze, and reduce your higher education campus' carbon emissions through this carbon accounting platform.

Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy (DSIRE)
A comprehensive database of incentives, rebates and policies that support renewables and energy efficiency in the United States.

Show Me the Money
A report by the Environmental Defense Fund and their partners that examines barriers to energy efficiency financing and strategies to overcome them. Higher education is one of several sectors discussed in the report.

Join the Billion Dollar Green Challenge
The Billion Dollar Green Challenge encourages colleges, universities, and other nonprofit institutions to invest a combined total of one billion dollars in self-managed green revolving funds that finance energy efficiency improvements.

Green Revolving Funds: A Guide to Implementation and Management
A white paper that helps colleges and universities build the business case for energy efficiency by establishing a green revolving fund.

Green Revolving Funds Case Studies
Case Studies provide in-depth and high-quality examples of how GRFs have successfully been structured.

Webinar: Implementation Strategies for Campus Green Revolving Funds
This webinar provides a roadmap to implementing and managing a successful green revolving fund to finance energy efficiency and sustainability projects.

Greening the Bottom Line
A report summarizing and analyzing trends in green revolving fund adoption and performance among colleges and universities.

Sector Priorities

The Better Buildings Alliance Higher Education Steering Committee helps to set priorities for Alliance work in the sector each year.  This year, sector activities focus on the following priorities:

  • Addressing skilled labor gaps and workforce challenges
  • Student engagement in energy measurement and tracking
  • Laboratory efficiency
     

Steering Committee Members

  • Greg Farley, George Mason University (Chair)
  • Christopher Fox, Emory University
  • Moira Hafer, Stanford University
  • Andrea Trimble, University of Virginia
  • Elaine Sadowski, Community College of Allegheny County
  • Phil Valko, Washington University in St. Louis
  • Steve Glazner, APPA - Leadership in Educational Facilities

Meet the Sector Committee Chair