Energy Management for the Health Science Center
Energy Management is a permanent strategy that continually evolves in managing the single largest expense of the Facilities Management, campus utilities. These utilities expenses include the purchase of electricity, natural gas, water, and thermal energy.
UTHSCSA's energy management mission is to exploit available energy and maintain cost effectiveness without sacrificing utility services, safety, and building occupant comfort. Energy management is achieved on the five campuses through technological and operational improvements which support the diverse energy and comfort requirements of the University's mission. Active and continuous energy management is executed with the understanding that the productivity of the University in its various academic, clinical, and research endeavors has a value which eclipses the cost of energy requirements. Unlike the crises oriented energy conservation mandates of the 1980s, energy management strategies strive to achieve efficiency objectives while being transparent to the UTHSCSA community. The benefits of active and aggressive energy conservation are as follows:
- Reducing the cost of purchased utilities provides more funds to support academics, research, and clinical activities. It also assists in avoiding unnecessary budget reductions and/or increases in fees and tuition.
- Energy conservation is beneficial to the overall economy because as demand for enegy decreases, the costs of available energy resources decrease.
- Conserving energy lowers air emission levels (carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrous oxide) resulting in better air quality and conservation of energy resources.
The Utilities Division has two main energy management and control systems (EMCS). The predominant system is Johnson Control's MetaSys. Each of the three campuses in the San Antonio area has a Honeywell Excel 5000 with the EBI (Enterprise Building Integrator) front end. The Harlingen and Laredo campuses utilize the Johnson's system and Edinburg campus employs the Siemens APOGEE Building Automation System (BAS). All systems are direct digital control systems that monitor and control over 8,000 points in 31 of the HSC buildings on the Main Campus and also the four satellite campuses. Each building has a main control panel tied into the EMCS over the University's ethernet. In the event of a network outage or an isolated power outage, each building's control system is capable of operating independently.
The EMCS provides a varying degree of building automation depending on the complexity and use of the building. The most common monitoring and control points include air flow, water flow, differential pressure, static pressure, equipment status and alarm notifications, room temperatures, supply and discharge temperatures from air handlers, and HVAC scheduling. The EMCS also allows for trending of space temperatures, utility consumption monitoring, and program enhancements.
It is everyone's responsibility to be conscientious of energy usage, whether you are faculty, staff or a student. Even though the HSC has reduced energy consumption on a square foot basis since 1997, the annual cost of energy continues to rise significantly due to rapid growth of the HSC and also the increase of energy commodity costs. It is expected the UTHSCSA's energy costs will rise another 10% or more from fiscal year 2008 to fiscal year 2009. Facilities Management has been very proactive in reducing energy consumption; however, with skyrocketing energy costs, it is imperative that everyone promotes energy and water conservation.
- Turn off lights in offices, conference rooms, and laboratories (where feasible) during the day when not occupied and when leaving work for the evening or weekend.
- Turn off computers (where feasible) and monitors when leaving work area for the day.
- Where practical, turn off all office and lab equipment not being used, especially during nights and on weekends.
- Do not request air conditioning during off hours unless absolutely necessary.
- Maintain all thermostats set at 75 degrees or higher.
- Report any noted energy waste to this Associate Director
The Associate Director of Facilities Management for the Utilities Division is very involved with the design and construction of all new facilities. All mechanical drawings and specifications at the Schematic Design, Design Development, and Construction Document phases are thoroughly reviewed. Comments are provided to the consultants to ensure that the design of all equipment and systems are functional, energy efficient, easily maintainable, and meet the requirements of the facility’s program.
The Associate Director participates in many of the inspections. He is also involved in the commissioning process and the warranty period defects to ensure the ultimate success of each new facility.
Building commissioning is a definitive and methodical process for optimizing building performance to meet design intent of all equipment and systems; and to satisfy the functional needs of the building occupants. In order of importance, building commissioning addresses life safety, occupant comfort, and energy cost reduction. Building commissioning benefits include optimization of occupants comfort, improved indoor air quality, an increase in productivity and performance, energy conservation, and reduced environmental impact.
Building commissioning is usually associated with the start-up of a new facility. However, building commissioning is a permanent and continuous effort, not a one time program. Studies have shown that building retro-commissioning generally realizes a 15% to 30% reduction in energy consumption.
The Utilities Division strives to maintain proper air balance of all air handling and exhaust systems. The Division continually adjusts EMCS controls on all equipment to take advantage of energy savings operational strategies.