Two buildings on the University of Michigan’s Ann Arbor campus beat out competing buildings across the state to earn recognition as the biggest losers in energy consumption in 2016.
The W.K. Kellogg Eye Center and the Medical Sciences Research Building 3 led their respective categories in the Michigan Battle of the Buildings, a program that recognizes buildings in the state with the greatest energy reduction during the calendar year.
The West Michigan Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council has presented the program in partnership with Consumers Energy and DTE Energy since 2014.
“Receiving recognition of our efforts from a state chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council is very valuable to the energy management team. The work we do is typically done behind the scenes, without much interaction with building occupants,” says Kevin Morgan, manager of the energy management team for Energy Management, part of the Office of Campus Sustainability.
“This recognition helps showcase how our work directly supports the university’s 2025 sustainability goal focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”
Using utility data that is adjusted for fluctuations in weather, the program ranks the annual energy reduction of buildings competing in nine categories including entertainment, health care, education and public buildings.
U-M submitted a total of eight buildings and won in the health/hospital and research/education categories.
Kellogg Eye Center experienced a 5.3 percent energy reduction from 2015 to 2016 as a result of adjusting the heating and cooling within the building and at its main entrance.
“Kellogg has a lot of labs, and labs require fresh air to be brought into the space, then heated, cooled or dehumidified, and finally exhausted to the outside. Nothing recirculates in labs,” says David Shaw, regional energy manager for the Medical School.
“We found a number of spaces within the building where labs were converted into offices, which no longer needed to exhaust air from the building, so we adjusted the building ventilation needs to meet the current use of the space which had changed over the years.”
The changes reduced the total amount of outside air pulled into the building by 10,000 cubic feet per minute, resulting in a significant reduction in energy use and approximately $15,000 in cost avoidance for the year.
The Medical Sciences Research Building 3, another campus facility predominately consisting of lab space, reduced energy by 21 percent by switching from using older, less efficient equipment for its air conditioning needs and connecting to the regional chiller plant that heats and cools most medical school buildings.
Energy Management also corrected and adjusted ventilation controls in the building along with adding occupancy sensors to control lighting and ventilation in office spaces.
“It’s important for people in buildings with labs to pay attention to lights and equipment use, but even more so to pay attention to ventilation, which is a much more energy intensive process,” adds Shaw.
“Closing fume hoods and windows in labs not only helps reduce energy use and costs, it also keeps lab occupants safe.”
The 2016 winners were honored at 2017 Energy Summit in Grand Rapids on April 19. Shaw also participated in a panel discussion on best practices for energy audits at the event and shared U-M’s approach of continuously monitoring building energy use instead of relying on periodic reviews.