by Bob Hooper, BEP, and Jim Crockett, PE

It is a common misconception that new buildings are inherently energy efficient—unfortunately, the moment they are constructed, their efficiency and performance start to deteriorate. The Life Science Building was a fairly new building, but known by the campus facilities department as a challenging one, with more than 269,000 Square Feet of classrooms, multiple laboratory spaces, and more than 600 independently-controlled heating and cooling zones. As “wise Stewards” over what is given, Brigham Young University and its staff recognized that implementing energy efficiency is particularly important because of the significant annual energy cost incurred due to its size and large amounts of outside air that are needed for ventilation.

Brigham Young University Life Science Building

Brigham Young University Life Sciences Building

“We worked with the BYU staff to implement energy savings measures to ensure any specific needs of the space are met as well as to significantly reduce energy use. Trainings to the facility staff on what was being implemented and why it would save energy while still maintaining system/space demand built a trust between the teams, and has allowed to develop a standardization for programming and energy reducing protocols,” says Greg Jimmie, ETC Group’s Energy Engineer.

Some of the scopes of the project included:

  • reviewing the required airflow and pressurization of each lab
  • assessing the hours of operation required by offices and other spaces
  • functional testing of heating, cooling, and ventilation equipment
  • optimizing the algorithms used to control mechanical systems
  • modifying the building’s heat recovery system setpoints for maximum efficiency
  • conducting a thorough review of all heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems to ensure they were operating as efficiently as possible

Additionally, each labs’ pressurization and airflow were tested to ensure they were safe and code-compliant.  Standardized thermostat settings were also implemented to ensure that neighboring spaces did not have conflicting temperature requirements.

By working closely with BYU’s facilities team, we are projecting a reduction in annual energy costs of nearly $150,000 per year based on the first of the year’s data, all while increasing lab compliance, safety, and student and faculty comfort. As part of the project, we have modified data analytics reports used to monitor building performance, making the information more user-friendly, and allowing any future drifts in efficiency to be more easily detected and corrected.

“It has been a pleasure working closely with the capable BYU Facilities Team. Through this collaborative effort, we were able to uncover longstanding challenges that had a direct impact on reducing energy spend as well as increasing student, faculty comfort and safety. We look forward to continuing our work with the BYU Team,” says Bob Hooper, BEP, ETC Group’s Business Development Manager.

Having completed Phase 1, we have now advanced to Phase 2. This second phase will allow the facilities team to make data-driven efficiency decisions based on live and historical data. Our overall intent is to not only retain the current state of efficiency, but to identify and realize additional opportunities for improvement. Our experience shows that detailed knowledge and understanding of energy efficiency, comfort, and compliance requirements are critical for successful implementation and best results. Phase 2 was started on March of 2021 and is scheduled to be completed on February of 2022.

Example Trend Data Demonstrating Implementation

Example Trend Data Demonstrating Implementation