The University of Michigan’s Kellogg Eye Center and Medical Science Research Building III were honored last week after dramatically increasing their energy efficiency during the Michigan Battle of the Buildings — an energy reduction competition for businesses in the state of Michigan.

The Michigan Battle of the Buildings is a program that honors reductions in energy use and is open to all industrial, commercial and multifamily residential buildings in the state that runs from March 31 to Dec. 31 every year.

Liz Boyd, spokeswoman for the Battle of the Buildings, shared the competition’s goals for Michigan companies and buildings.

“It is a friendly competition designed for buildings to be more energy efficient, and they also provide information for companies to become more energy efficient,” Boyd said. “It’s all about promoting energy efficiency. There are easy steps buildings can take to save energy and money.”

The 2017 Energy Summit celebrated the 2016 competition’s “biggest losers” and welcomed new competitors for 2017. In addition to the awards presentation, the Summit featured peer-to-peer learning platforms for attendees to learn how Michigan companies are reducing their energy consumption without sacrificing comfort or productivity. Keynote speakers were also in attendance, discussing a range of energy-related topics.

Cheri Holman, Battle of the Buildings creator, shared the main focus of the competition.

“The overall goal is to educate on energy efficient practices within the state and to gather energy leaders so they can all learn from each other,” Holman said.

The University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center, Michigan’s number one ranked eye center, achieved an energy-use reduction of 5.30 percent and annual savings increase of $15,000. This feat was achieved by adjusting the exhaust fans to rebalance the air flow through the building.

David Shaw, Regional Energy Manager of University Energy Management, provided a reason for this change.

“As buildings are used and age, the controls can drift or fail,” Shaw said. “Recommissioning brings our systems back to what they were designed to do and restores them to their original efficiency.”

Medical Science Research Building III managed to increase its energy efficiency by implementing a series of conservation efforts. These advances included recommissioning the facility’s office and lab ventilation controls, the installation of occupancy sensors in offices and encouraging building occupants to turn off lights and close fume hood sashes when not in use. These efforts resulted in a net decrease in energy use of 21.5 percent.

“The education is that there is simple, low-hanging fruit to innovative technology,” Holman said. “A mix of everything is what we are encouraging.”

The Energy Management Team’s five managers, who worked on both the Kellogg Eye Center and Medical Science Research Building III’s renovations, are now tasked with helping the University reach its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2025. Up to now, the University has managed to reduce its emissions by 8 percent per year.

“The energy savings achieved at the Kellogg Eye Building and Medical Sciences Research Building III directly contribute to this goal,” Shaw said.

The University hopes to meet their sustainability goal by looking for efficiency gains from energy they buy and produce and how energy is used in current buildings.

Planet Blue, the University’s multidisciplinary sustainability initiative, is committed to fostering sustainability education, research and community engagement on campus. By 2025, the University aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent, obtain 20 percent of its food from sustainable sources and decrease vehicle carbon output, among other efforts. 

Shaw shared the University’s future projections for energy reduction and savings.

“We look continually for new technologies and new ways to use existing equipment to cost-effectively maintain and operate our buildings safely and efficiently,” Shaw said.

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