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By Tom Robinson E

veryone loves to boast about new lean, green LEED-certified

classroom buildings. Less is said about their porky cousins. The real energy hogs on campus are the existing build- ings, the laboratories and the athletics department. Why are they so glutton- ous? What can be done to slim down their energy consumption?


EXISTING BUILDINGS LEAVE CAMPUSES RED-FACED, NOT GREEN On college campuses, buildings account for 60 percent of electricity usage and 30 to 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. New buildings built to LEED or Green Globes standards can reduce that energy consump- tion by 40 to 50 percent. Unfortunately, new construction is a tiny portion of the total picture. Existing buildings make up 95 percent

that fresh air and lower temperatures can improve class- room learning productivity and help retain teachers. While no two buildings and their uses are exactly


of the buildings on campuses. To meet institution-wide carbon mitigation goals, you have two choices: bulldoze all exist- ing buildings and build new ones in their place, or retrofit using standards published by the American Society of Heating, Refriger- ation and Air-conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), Energy Star, or LEED for Existing Building Operations & Maintenance (EBM&O). In the 1950s and 60s, energy consumption was


alike, Trane’s vice president for the education market, Bill Harris, says there can be a common approach to solutions. It starts with benchmarking. Measure the current performance of the old building, and com- pare that to a high efficiency building, then set goals. The next steps can be as simple as lim- iting use of certain space or turning off the lights and lowering the thermostat when not occupied. Automated controls can manage those functions quite well. Humans tend to be inconsistent; com-


puters don’t. Further steps become more complex. The tradeoff of energy savings and pleasant environments is not a zero-sum game. Yet bal-

ancing occupant comfort and energy savings requires compromise.

mostly ignored. In the 1970s, oil embargoes and esca- lating energy costs spawned the practice of sealing build- ings with revolving doors and narrow and inoperable windows. The objective was to heat or cool the air just once and lock it in place. Unfortunately for occupants, indoor air quality deteriorated with the lack of ventila- tion. And most advantages of bright airy interior spaces were lost. For example, ASHRAE studies have concluded


THE THREE RS OF GREENING EXISTING BUILDINGS Routine maintenance and repair pays off. Filters should be replaced regularly. Energy recovery ventilation systems (ERVs) should be cleaned periodically. Dampers, valves, louvers and sensors should be inspected and calibrated. A building automation system (BAS) can assure timely maintenance.

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