October 28, 2013
The university has avoided millions in energy costs for the sixth consecutive year as the result of ongoing efforts by the Planet Blue Operations Team on the Ann Arbor campus.
Energy conservation measures applied in 137 general fund buildings resulted in an 8.4 percent reduction in energy use and an avoidance of $4 million in utility costs for fiscal year 2013.
The avoided energy is equivalent to the amount needed to power, heat and cool more than 2,700 average homes in the United States. Campus also avoided 20,000 metric tons of carbon emissions, similar to removing 4,000 vehicles from the roads.
“Each year we continue to identify energy improvements in our buildings that result in significant savings for the university and help us to reach our larger campus goals,” said Kevin Morgan, one of four regional energy managers for the Planet Blue Operations Team.
“Sustainable operations is part of the culture of how we do business on campus, and it’s our job to explore opportunities to continue to operate in the most efficiently manner possible.”
Buildings with notable energy consumption reduction percentages include:
• Rackham Graduate School (47 percent)
• Alumni Center (36 percent)
• Life Sciences Institute (11 percent)
“Ensuring that existing systems are working efficiently or adjusted to new environmental standards is critical for energy savings in a laboratory building,” said Cathy Andrews, director of operations at the Life Sciences Institute.Through the recommissioning of existing mechanical systems, occupancy sensing lighting upgrades and fan scheduling, the Life Science Institute saw its largest incremental reduction in energy consumption with more than $200,000 avoided in energy costs.
“Our ongoing partnership with the Planet Blue Operations Team ensures that we continue to explore opportunities and discuss new technologies that can reduce our utility consumption and cost in the coming years."
Launched in 2008, the Planet Blue Operations program began as a four-year program to promote energy conservation in 30 buildings per year. It initially targeted behavioral adjustments such as encouraging building occupants to set thermostats to appropriate temperatures and to turn off lights and equipment when not in use.
The program has continually decreased overall campus energy consumption by an average eight percent per year, and has become a permanent program on campus under the Planet Blue Operations Team.
Regional Energy Managers presently focus on tackling more complex projects involving a building’s overall system, such as reviewing the programming that effects major heating and cooling systems or monitoring fan schedules and monthly utility consumption.