Specialized Savings: Better Buildings University Partner Showcases Big Savings in Science Buildings Retrofit

By Better Buildings Beat Team on Apr 05, 2017

One of the more unique challenges when performing energy efficiency upgrades in a university setting can be the needs of more specialized facilities on campus – like chemistry and biology buildings. These facilities usually have classrooms and laboratories, and those labs are home to very sensitive experiments and hazardous substances. Powerful equipment combined with ventilation to maintain a safe indoor environment means these kinds of buildings are frequently big energy consumers. So how do you make the building more efficient, while providing for the lab needs of students, faculty, and staff?

The University of Utah implemented upgrades to the Eyring Chemistry and Biology buildings with the help of an engineering consulting firm. Ventilation was changed from constant air volume to variable air volume (VAV), and an array of sensors, monitors, and controls were installed to allow for energy saving control sequences while maintaining laboratory pressurization and temperature control. The project – covering five buildings and 370,000 square feet – is estimated to save the University $456,000 annually, with a 44 percent savings on EUI!

To tackle this complicated project, the engineering firm first conducted facility and energy audits of the buildings, and presented a list of recommended “Energy Conservation Measures” – ECMs – to the University. From that list, they chose to implement specific ECMs that would have positive impacts on air flow and temperature control, and that affected the full life-cycle of the buildings beyond energy use reductions. This means the buildings will perform better for longer.

For more details on how this showcase project was implemented, check out the Eyring Chemistry and Biology Buildings on the Better Buildings Solution Center.