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5 Innovative Ways to Make Energy Usage on Campus More Efficient

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Laura Miller

College campuses are highly structured, controlled environments that can serve as innovation hubs to create energy-efficient, sustainable, and carbon-neutral premises. By conducting energy audits and identifying the activities contributing significantly to higher electricity costs, campuses can come up with solutions to achieve energy efficiency goals. With a growing focus on the clean energy future, colleges and universities can implement a few innovative ways to make energy usage on campus more efficient.  

Innovative Ways to Make Energy Usage on Campus More Efficient 

For sprawling campuses, achieving net-zero carbon footprints to address climate change is an ambitious goal with a large interconnected network of energy-intensive equipment running 24/7 and contributing to greenhouse gas emissions. Higher education institutions can deploy some of the following innovative ways to make energy usage on campus more efficient.    

Retrofit Campus Infrastructure

A majority of college campuses were not designed to be energy efficient and have outdated infrastructure and equipment that contribute significantly to higher energy consumption. Lighting and HVAC are the two major energy-intensive applications on campuses. Retrofitting dated lighting fixtures such as high-pressure sodium (HPS) lamps with LED luminaires can save 10-25% of total greenhouse energy demand, and proves to be an effective and easy way to reduce energy costs, and operations and maintenance costs. 

When it comes to retrofitting dated HVAC systems in educational institutions, the top priority is to improve indoor air quality, along with increased energy efficiency. Studies have revealed that installing UV-C systems in Air Handling Units (AHUs) to treat cooling coils improves indoor air quality while saving HVAC energy with reduced fan usage.         

Deploy Renewable Sources of Energy

Relying on clean energy including geothermal, solar, wind, biomass, and others on campuses to meet energy needs can help educational institutions create sustainable and green infrastructure, and reduce carbon footprints. Several campuses have partnered with the U.S. EPA through Green Power Partnership to realize the benefits of deploying clean energy to generate electricity for their day-to-day operations. Apart from cost savings, clean energy projects have been pivotal in providing learning, training, and research opportunities for students. Further, energy storage systems can help campuses utilize excess clean energy for other utilities such as charging electric vehicles.    

Establish Green Campus Initiatives

Green campus initiatives, started by student groups in campuses, aim to engage students and faculty in energy conservation efforts. Most colleges and universities have tight operating budgets that demand low- or no-cost ways to reduce energy costs. Green campus initiatives including bike-friendly campus initiatives, recycling programs, and competitions within college campus dormitories to reduce energy consumption are instrumental in encouraging students to develop environmentally-sustainable habits.    

Develop Energy Innovation Plans and Projects

When it comes to addressing climate change, campuses need to focus less on creating new buildings and more on making the existing infrastructure sustainable. Developing energy innovation plans with long-term sustainability goals is a proactive approach to reduce the energy intensity of buildings on campuses and lower overall emissions. One of the best examples of this is the University of Melbourne, which harnessed the power of smart building technology and preventive maintenance to achieve its carbon neutrality goals.

Utilize Smart Building Management 

In an attempt to create smart campuses, universities have been focusing on unifying the built environment through the Internet of Things (IoT) technology. IoT can help make campus buildings and zones more responsive by determining specific requirements such as lighting, temperature, and humidity, and adjusting the functioning of equipment accordingly. A critical part of implementing IoT is to integrate the operations of an interconnected network of equipment in various buildings within the premises. 

Though building management systems (BMS) help monitor the functioning of such networks of equipment around the clock with exhaustive data on the energy consumption of various equipment, it heavily relies on manual intervention to adjust equipment setpoint to improve energy efficiency in individual buildings. That is why it is imperative to introduce intelligent building management platforms to implement IoT and identify building occupancy patterns and align HVAC, lighting, and other controls accordingly.  

For facility managers, it is a challenge to gain greater visibility over the functioning of equipment across every part of the campus and optimize operations to reduce energy usage. Introducing smart analytics in your BMS offers a unified interface to effectively address this challenge and help campuses transform into energy-efficient hubs.     

Implementing Analytics in BMS to Achieve Higher Energy Efficiency 

Not all buildings on a campus have the same utility requirements and thus, present a significant scope of cost-saving. Facility managers need to consider the varying energy requirements of different zones in the campus while emphasizing preventive maintenance and early fault detection of equipment. 

Retrofitting campuses with ENERGY STAR® appliances can achieve the desired results only through optimal functioning of the equipment. Implementing intelligent analytics with BMS provides real-time sensor data to automatically adjust set points of the interconnected system of energy-efficient equipment and further improve its performance. Intelligent building management platforms such as onPoint utilizes advanced machine learning algorithms to mine historic data on the functioning of equipment and compare it with real-time data to determine anomalies and identify the causes of poor performance. An intuitive smart building platform offers a user-friendly interface that lets facility managers improve the operational performance of equipment, resolve maintenance issues remotely, and address the concerns about the comfort and safety of students. 

onPoint facilitates the implementation of innovative ways to make energy usage on campus more efficient. And at Buildings IOT, energy efficiency is important. Contact our team of experts to learn more about integrating intelligent building management platforms with BMS on your campus.           



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