Reducing energy use is an important part of the medical center’s effort to achieve net zero building emissions by 2030.
In February of 2020, a local energy management firm partnered with the department of facilities, management and planning to optimize the Lauritzen Outpatient Center with this goal in mind. The six-month project helped make the building more efficient and correct pressure issues, which were most noticeable in the walkway between the Lauritzen Outpatient Center and the UNMC Center for Drug Discovery. More lighting controls also were installed, all of which helped the med center reduce emissions.
In buildings that have operating rooms and labs, there are different air requirements to keep everyone safe. More air is exhausted outside and is replaced with fresh, conditioned air. Replacing the air faster in these spaces not only uses more energy but sometimes can create pressure issues. Because almost all buildings on campus are connected, you can often feel a “breeze” in smaller spaces, like hallways and walkways.
The energy optimization project examined the programming of all HVAC systems to ensure proper functionality and appropriate conditioning of spaces. Occupants should be comfortable during the day, but systems can be slowed during unoccupied times in order to save energy. Alongside the optimization project, new lighting sensors were installed to adjust lighting levels based on number of occupants in a space.
With the changes from this project, the med center reduced energy use by 3.7 million KBtus and saved more than $103,000 in just the first year. The facilities department expects energy savings to continue and cost avoidance to increase as well. The emissions impact from this reduction in energy use is equivalent to removing 167 passenger vehicles from the road for one year.
Reducing emissions from energy use contributes to the med center’s mission to create a healthy future for all. Emissions cause a variety of health impacts, including cancer, asthma, respiratory allergies, foodborne disease, mental health disorders and more.
Facilities will continue to work on optimizing buildings on campus, and there are many ways you can help. Discover steps you can take during the work day or ways to implement energy saving strategies at home.