Numerous steps have been taken to increase energy efficiency in buildings on the Storrs campus. Some recent projects include retrocommissioning, retrofitting, and relamping. The retrocommissioning project, which covers about 30% of the campus's ten million square feet of building space, is just beginning to optimize building controls relating to HVAC, heating and cooling, and automatic lighting. An extensive relamping project was also recently completed.
Retrocommissioning is considered a priority in UConn's Climate Action Plan. UConn currently has plans to retrocommission 34 buildings on the main campus. So far, recommendations for four of these buildings have revealed the possibility of $145,000 in annual energy savings with only a five year payback period and will save the same amount of CO2 emissions as removing 89 cars from the road. The payback period is likely to be even less than this because UConn will recoup up to a half of its costs through the Connecticut Energy Efficiency Fund in the form of a rebate. These projects are being funded by the renewable energy credits that UConn has received from operating the highly efficient natural gas cogeneration facility for its electrical and steam needs.
Commissioning a building refers to the process of improving how a building operates by testing and fine tuning the building's equipment and systems so that they function optimally. When an existing building is commissioned, the process is called retrocommissioning. However, retrocommissioning is not the same as retrofitting. Retrofitting involves the replacement of existing equipment with newer, more efficient equipment. Because there is much overlap in how the building is investigated in both processes, retrocommissioning and retrofitting are often performed at the same time. Both procedures have the potential to make meaningful reductions in long term building operation costs.
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UConn expects a dramatic drop in its electricity demand due to an extensive lighting system upgrade campaign targeting 67 buildings on campus. These upgrades will increase energy efficiency, decrease overall energy use, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. According to the Department of Energy, the average office building can attribute 29% of its total energy demand to lighting! To put it in perspective, the new lighting in 23 buildings including the Homer Babbidge Library, the Greer Field House, and the Chemistry Building can potentially save the same amount of CO2 emissions per year as driving a regular gas-powered car 4 million miles!
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As part of UConn's and the Office of Environmental Policy's relamping initiative, OEP interns and EcoHusky members gave away compact fluorescent lightbulbs to students in order to increase university awareness and help conserve energy. Click here for more information.
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