July 23, 2007
Emory College pilot project shows how cutting energy equals big savings
by kelly gray
In 2006, with Emory spending nearly $30 million on energy costs, the University called upon its leaders in facilities management and the Office of Sustainability Initiatives to propose a solution on how to greatly reduce energy costs in the coming years.
Part of Emory’s Sustain-ability Initiative includes a reduction of the average energy use on campus by 25 percent by 2015 (based on December 2005 levels). How will Emory meet this goal?
In part, Emory College has incorporated a building heating, ventilation and air conditioning shutdown pilot project where the HVAC systems in targeted buildings are shut off from midnight to 6 a.m. daily. Candler Library was the first of the HVAC system shutdowns in June 2006.
The original plan called for the energy shutdown to only include two floors of the library, with tenants being notified through posters placed in the lobby.
“After careful consideration, the decision was made to completely shut down the HVAC systems in Candler Library during off hours,” said Nancy Bayly, associate director for capital projects for Emory College. “There have been no adverse effects on the books or any of the equipment in the building.”
With the success of the Candler Library HVAC system shutdown, six additional buildings have been included in the energy shutdowns. “Emory is being responsible by ensuring all new buildings receive LEED certification as ‘green buildings,’ but we wanted to look at what we could do to save more energy in some of our older buildings,” said Bayly. “With a total of seven buildings having their HVAC systems shut down, we are projecting to save at least $500,000 on our total energy costs this year.”
Emory is continuing to explore the option of extending the hours of the building energy shutdowns in evenings and on weekends.
During the building power shutdown in summer months, if the internal temperature of a building reaches 85 degrees, the air conditioning unit will automatically start. Equally, during the building energy shutdown in winter months, if the internal temperature of a building drops to 50 degrees, the heat will be involuntarily activated.
• Emory’s HVAC systems consume 40 to 70 percent of a building’s total energy use. The total energy use includes water, electricity and gas. The percentage of energy use varies upon the types of programs occupying the structure.
• In the summer months, 74 degrees is the suggested temperature setting for office and classroom space and 76 degrees is recommended for common spaces.
• In winter months, 68 degrees is the suggested temperature setting for office, classroom and common spaces. The use of personal space heaters is strongly discouraged due to the large amount of energy consumed and the potential risk of a fire hazard.
• Employees should dress in layers at work to ensure they are comfortable given the recommended temperature guidelines.