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Facilities providers on heating and cooling fallacies

University Business, March 2016

What’s the biggest misconception administrators outside the facilities department tend to have related to heating and cooling campus buildings?

“Administrators believe [that] just because they have invested a lot of capital in an expensive energy efficiency upgrade to a facility, the opportunity for behavioral energy conservation savings is minimal. The reality is, energy efficiency upgrades are just incremental reductions of energy. Behavior conservation tightly controls systems operations to match the actual occupancy of the facility. This reduces the hours that systems operate. ‘Off’ is a 100 percent reduction in energy.”

—Jack Bullock, executive vice president of engineering, Cenergistic

“The biggest misconception is the assumption that energy is priced the same day and night. On average, energy prices are 50 percent less expensive during nighttime hours than daytime hours. This is true even if a facility has what is considered a ‘flat rate,’ once demand-related charges are factored into the equation.”

—Mark M. MacCracken, CEO, CALMAC

“The heating and cooling of buildings is no longer just about student comfort and satisfaction, creating ideal research and instructional conditions, and making sure the president is comfortable. Taking advantage of technological innovation in this realm is a statement by the university that it’s taken the high cost of energy by the horns and decided to do something about it. And along with taking such a stance comes associated benefits in the areas of improved indoor air quality, carbon emissions reduction, sustainability and campus modernization—things that today’s students and faculty really care about.”

—Steve Hoiberg, LEED green associate, global market manager for higher education, Siemens’ Building Technologies Division

“It is more of an art than most realize to minimize the energy spend associated with HVAC and lighting loads while maintaining a comfortable and productive environment for students and staff. Technology is now emerging that will help facility managers analyze all the data, such as weather and occupancy patterns, as well as create HVAC systems that are more flexible to account for different levels of usage during the school year. This can fine-tune those crucial decisions for facilities managers. However, creating room in the budget for infrastructure upgrades that aren’t typically targeted by donors can be a dilemma.”

—Tara Canfield, education segment director, Schneider Electric

“Not all administrators recognize that heating and cooling for campus buildings is part of a power infrastructure that can be controlled to save energy and capital. Controlling campus energy loads and utility costs can harvest savings that can offset capital improvement projects. We often work with administrators on performance contracting by creating a road map for their long-range capital planning. In addition to capital planning, campus faculty and students today are energy-conscious and want comfortable and sustainable surroundings. Administrators can … contribute to the discussion around smarter control of heating and cooling for campus buildings that could help increase student enrollment and improve their brand.”

—Russell Garcia, director, west region, state government and higher education, Johnson Controls

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