Northwestern Cuts Energy Use in the Battle of the Buildings
From September 1 through November 30, 2016, Northwestern competed in the U.S. EPA ENERGY STAR's Battle of the Buildings, a national competition to reduce energy use in buildings. The top performer among the University’s competing buildings was the Tarry Research and Education Building. Over the course of the competition, the building saved more than 228,000 kWh of electricity. This is equivalent to the total annual energy usage of 17 average homes.
Northwestern entered five buildings in the competition: the Tarry Research and Education Building, Catalysis Center, 1801 Maple, the Technological Institute, and Cook Hall. These buildings all contain laboratory spaces, which tend to be extremely energy intensive. During the competition, sustainNU worked with building managers, lab managers and users, and the Office of Research Safety to conserve energy while maintaining safe lab procedures.
Fume hoods were a key area of focus because they are among the most energy hungry pieces of equipment in labs. When a fume hood sash is left in the open position, it can use more energy annually than three average U.S. homes. Shutting or lowering sashes on fume hoods with variable air volume systems can make a big difference in energy consumption. The sensors automatically adjust ventilation levels based on sash height and occupancy. During the competition, email messages and posters and stickers in labs reminded lab users to “shut the sash.” In Tarry, “shut the sash” stickers were placed on 87 fume hoods. Equipment data showed a nearly 14 percent decrease in the average height at which fume hoods were left open.
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