By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now
Building new green buildings can be exciting. But taking old buildings, like a giant college dormitory built in 1965, and making them as energy efficient as they can be, there’s real satisfaction in that, too.
And dollar savings.
Last year, Morrison Hall, an iconic dorm at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, saved a cool quarter million on its annual energy use after making a series of changes to reduce and conserve. The university repaired and fine-tuned its solar hot water system; adjusted fans in the HVAC system; changed out 250 bulbs to lower wattage CFLs and LEDs, and used “economizers” to pull in outside cool air when temperatures were under 65 degrees to reduce the load on its AC compressors.
All these changes brought down energy use at the red brick, mid-century dorm, helping Morrison Hall win the EPA ENERGY STAR’s inaugural Battle of the Buildings contest in 2010. Morrison reduced its “energy intensity” – a calculation of energy used measured against the space involved – by 35.7 percent, beating out the other 13 contestants for the biggest percentage reduction.
The competition will be even more rigorous this year with 245 buildings across the U.S. taking up the challenge. The 2011 entrants include several churches, schools, hospitals, municipal buildings, courthouses, hotels, a handful of skyscrapers and even an office building on Wall Street, 60 Wall Street. They may have to reverse their thinking at that last building; this contest rewards contraction not growth.
Other buildings range from the esteemed, like Hauser Hall at Harvard Law, the Hawaii State Capitol Building and the GSA-Social Security Administration building (could energy savings here be a first step toward saving the system?), to the every day, such as an Office Depot in Tallahassee, Fla.; the Arlington County Fire Station 4 in Arlington, Va., and the Caterpillar AC Building in Mossville, Ill.
It shows how everyone has a stake in energy savings, no matter what their ideology or industry.
Contestants include the Kimberly Clark World Headquarters, makers of disposable paper products, and the U.S. Mint, makers of disposable income.
Churches entered include Methodists, Unitarians and Evangelicals. Schools are represented from several states, including what looks to be every single elementary, middle and high school in Wylie, Texas. Someone’s jazzed about energy conservation at that suburban Dallas district.
The Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce also has entered their handsome building. Hope their national office doesn’t mind.
Each of the 2011 entrants has been assessed a current Energy Use Intensity score that conveys how much energy they consume compared with the total floorspace of their building. Buildings have different intensities of energy use based on their activities. Hospitals, for instance, have a high EUI – with lots of energy-using tech equipment and the need for round-the-clock heating and cooling. Schools and retail stores have lower energy use intensity scores.
The competition will compare a building’s EUI between two 12-month-periods: 9/1/2009-8/31/2010 and 9/31/20010-8/31/2011.
The entrant that shows the greatest percentage reduction in EUI between those two time periods (with the EPA making some “weather-normalized” adjustments) will be declared the winner. The top finishers will be announced in November.
The competitors are urged to follow Energy Star guidelines for reducing energy use during the period of the competition. Those guidelines encourage a stacked, orderly approach in which changes maximize if taken in the right order. For instance, if the building proprietors first seal all air leaks, then added insulation will be more effective or HVAC repairs will be more effective.
Morrison Hall was last year’s winner, but all the competitors achieved some level of energy use reduction, resulting in nearly $1 million in saved electricity costs for the 14 buildings. Many of the schools and retail outlets accompanied their hardware changes and repairs with education for employees, encouraging better energy habits. Employees learned to put computers into sleep mode and were reminded to turn off lights in bathrooms and break rooms.
The Courtyard Marriott in downtown San Diego offered employees bonuses for energy reductions, as did the Solon Family Health Center in Cleveland, which awarded changes by offering to remodel break rooms for winning teams.
Retailers and office building managers installed occupancy sensors for hallways, conference rooms and other areas, which automatically shut off lights when no one was around.
The JCPenney Store #1778 in Orange County, Calif., employed programmable lights, among other features, to reduce its Energy Use Intensity by 28 percent and finish third in the 2010 contest.
All together the 2010 winners’ energy reductions also greenhouse gas emissions equal to the annual electricity use of nearly 600 homes.
- See all the buildings in the 2011 contest at Battle of the Buildings.
Copyright © 2011 Green Right Now | Distributed by GRN Network