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Quick Action and Coordination Saves Energy for Pace University

By Better Buildings Beat Team on Oct 05, 2020

As a Better Buildings Challenge partner, Pace University has committed to 20% energy reduction campus-wide by 2023. When COVID-19 hit New York City in March and April, the university acted swiftly by closing the campus and sending nearly all students, faculty, and staff to attend classes and work remotely. While preparing buildings for safe re-occupancy, staff on campus made energy efficiency progress through key upgrades, coordination among facilities staff, utilizing existing tools and protocols, and the ability to act quickly on an unoccupied campus. Together, these measures have achieved 30-40% energy savings compared to the same period last year.

Air conditioning was cycled through the hot months of June and July, running systems for two-hour shifts on different floors of each building. This provided adequate ventilation each day and helped to keep humidity levels under the target of 60%. Energy audits were conducted during unoccupied times to make sure the new HVAC setback schedules were functioning correctly, manage moisture, and identify systems not running correctly.

Faulty steam traps were replaced, allowing for more efficient steam system distribution. Meanwhile, planning has safely continued for the new construction of a high-rise building that will house residents, academic classrooms, a dining hall, and library. This project will include installing high-efficiency heat pumps and improving envelope insulation while modernizing building facilities.

Pace geared up for hosting some students back on campus this fall. Classrooms are reduced to 25% capacity, and the start of classes was moved two weeks earlier to allow the campus to remain vacant from Thanksgiving through the new year. Safety measures implemented include:

  • Installation of ultraviolet lights in bathrooms to help sterilize air
  • Installation of bipolar ionization in some large public spaces
  • Upgrading all campus ventilation systems to MERV 13 filters
  • Increasing outside air ventilation
  • Reorganizing the traffic flow of buildings
  • Installing nano-septic elevator buttons

Looking ahead in the fall semester, Pace will continue to explore opportunities to improve occupant health and building efficiency.

1 Pace Plaza

UVC light units installed in public/shared bathrooms.
It pulls the air in through one side, exposes the air to UVC light inside the container and then pushes back out the other side.