UAB energy conservation underway
Posted on Sep 07, 2012 in News
Various energy conservation projects are taking place here at UAB in places such as the Campus Recreation Center, the student dorms, classrooms and cafeterias.
These projects not only allow more financial leeway for the university, but create a more financially sound campus as well.
Matt Winslett, Engineering Manager of the Energy Management Department at UAB believes that a lot of these projects will lay the foundation for a “Green” campus.
“Paying less for utilities affords other opportunities. Departments can avoid layoffs and maybe even hire extra staff or spend money ear-marked for utilities on other things,” said Winslett. “I think I have one of best jobs here. We strive to be leaders in sustainable energy conservation, hopefully positively impacting our local environment, society, and economy.”
The Campus Recreation Center has been reconstructed from the inside and made more energy efficient from wall to wall.
The reduction of temperature and lighting setbacks was a large aspect of the process. During the building’s unoccupied hours, it “shuts down” in a sense, saving money and energy.
The advancement of technology implemented in energy reduction has grown even more in years by its carbon dioxide sensors. These serve as monitors of carbon dioxide present in specific areas of the Recreation Center and adjust temperature and humidity to its needs and shuts down during the off hours.
Winslett claims there are many plans in the making for UAB’s Green division, some of which include programmed equipment setbacks during unoccupied times, installation of building air handler control upgrades, installation of efficient lighting upgrades with occupancy sensed lighting controls and installation of more efficient vacuum and compressed air pumping systems that drastically reduce water usage.
These projects take time, however.
“The process includes evaluating investment vs. payback,” said Winslett. “We look for a less than three-year payback on all of our projects from energy savings. We see many that payback in one to two years. We complete an installation and then evaluate the savings in the months afterwards based on actual metering.”
According to Winslett, the Universities utility costs decreased by over $7 million from the previous year thanks to its green initiative.
“My vision for UAB is for every building, new and old, to perform like the PC that’s on your desktop. When it’s not in use it simply goes to sleep,” said Winslett. “The lights go off, the HVAC units setback, and everything ‘goes dormant’ until needed. When someone walks in all systems wake up to accommodate the user and energy is only used as needed.”
Winslett believes that energy conservation is not hard to accomplish, but it does require help from everyone.
“Our slogan is ‘Think Green – Save Gold’ and I believe as we continue to do this, UAB will become a national leader in sustainability and energy conservation.”