This article originally appeared on Facility Management
With high-energy-use equipment, an HVAC system that must run flawlessly day and night, and buildings that never go dark, the Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology Research (IBBR) was one of the biggest energy hogs on the University of Maryland campus as well as one of the most difficult to make more energy efficient.
BBR connects scientists from the university, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and industry to find solutions to major scientific and medical challenges. With one of the nation’s largest collections of high-resolution instruments, IBBR researchers have figured out the molecular structure of proteins, unraveled the protein interactions involved in autoimmune disorders, and discovered possible countermeasures for antibiotic resistance.
Their infinitesimally precise experiments require around-the-clock lab access – and those labs require a stable environment. A change in room temperature of just one or two degrees could twist the outcome of an experiment; increased humidity could interfere with sensitive scientific equipment.
With all this in mind, the IBBR facilities management team – challenged by a state mandate to reduce energy consumption and a university commitment to reduce total energy consumption 20% by 2020 – embarked on an aggressive energy reduction plan. One of the first actions: a chiller plant optimization project that achieved substantial savings.
When the project began, the plant was consuming energy at 0.9 kW/ton and operating at just 50% output. Now the plant runs 27 to 37% more efficiently, effectively keeping energy costs flat while building occupancy increased. IBBR has also reduced CO2 emissions by about 125 tons per year and improved plant reliability, so that the lab environment remains stable, even though icy, snowy winters and hot, humid summers.
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