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Research Areas


Cutting–edge research doesn’t have to be energy intensive. See how new discoveries and energy conservation can grow hand–in–hand…

Heating and Cooling

The largest percentage of energy used on a college campus (about 40%) goes towards heating and cooling indoor spaces, according to the U.S. Department of Energy1. Decreasing demand for cooling is key in minimizing spikes in summer power consumption and meeting critical power needs during times of power curtailment. Decreased demand for heating and cooling can also go a long way in reaching our overall goal of a 15 percent reduction (or more) in power usage.

Thermostats

If you can control your thermostat, suggested settings are 75°F in summer and 68-70°F in winter. A setting of 73°F in the summer uses 50% more energy than a setting of 78°F2.

If you can control your thermostat, and/or 75°F is too uncomfortable, adjust it more radically when everyone leaves for the day. The typical office is unoccupied 60%-70% of each day. If your area has a manual thermostat, assign the duty of thermostat adjustment to the person who usually leaves the area last. If you have a programmable thermostat, take advantage of its capabilities, and set evening/weekend temperatures at appropriate levels to generate energy savings.

If you have a manual non-pneumatic thermostat, invest in programmable thermostats for your area. Plant Services and Plant Operations can install a programmable thermostat for your department by placing a work order.

Thermostat Management Tip: cranking the temperature down to a very low temperature doesn’t cool an area faster. Thermostats and cooling systems work together to cool an area based on a fixed time to reach the setpoint temperature- same goes for heating3. Avoid the thermostat yo-yo effect: if you think the indoor temperature seems extremely cold or hot, call Plant Services(322-2041) for those in VUMC, or Plant Operations (4-WORK) for those on main campus and alert them to the temperature extreme. A simple repair can save a lot of energy and improve comfort.

And remember: most research areas do not recirculate and recondition indoor air the way that offices and classrooms do. In research areas, air is conditioned one-time only, circulated through the research area, then discharged through a vent or fume hood! Click here to learn more about how proper fume hood management can save energy in several ways.

Can you really feel a difference of two degrees on the thermostat in your office? Watch this video from ABC News on winter thermostat settings.

Steam heat in Peabody's Iris Cafe

Some buildings are heated and cooled by steam and chilled water (instead of directly by electricity or natural gas). And in some buildings, the Plant Operations Department can centrally control the temperature set point. Thus, it is important to let them know if the building seems unusually cold or hot, instead of opening windows, bringing in fans or space heaters to regulate the temperature (which uses even more energy), or turning on the heat in the summer.

Air Vents and Space Heaters

Don’t block air vents with paper or cardboard or accidentally block vents with bookcases or other items. As much as 25% more energy is required to distribute air if your vents are blocked4.

Avoid using space heaters. They are dangerous and waste energy. Watch this video from Marriott Hotels on how they are conserving energy, including the avoidance of space heaters. (More earth-friendly tips for offices are included in this video – for free!)

Shades, Windows, and Clothing

Close shades and blinds during the hottest period of the day in the summer to keep heat out and cool air in. Open shades during the winter to take advantage of the natural heating. A major source of heat gain (increasing cooling demand in the summer) is the sun5.

Avoid opening windows in air conditioned or heated areas. If you need to open the windows, it could be a sign that the heating and air conditioning system is not working properly.

Accept more seasonal indoor temperature settings to avoid expensive (and sometimes wasteful) settings, especially during curtailment periods or energy spikes. Dress for the season and in layers to help moderate personal temperature.

The End Result

If Vanderbilt decreases its electricity demand for heating and air conditioning by 15%, it would avoid consuming almost 3.6 megawatt-hours of electricity in a day on peak demand days!

But what does this mean?

3.6 megawatt-hours of electricity is the same amount of power consumed by 83 average-sized homes in Nashville in a day. That’s a lot of juice, Commodore Fans.

Check The Math

40% of power for heating and air conditioning x 60 megawatt-hours consumption per day (on peak days) = 24 megawatt-hours

15% of 24 megawatt-hours = 3.6 megawatt-hours

Energy consumption of one average house in Nashville for a day = 0.043 megawatt-hours6

References

1 U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Office, Building Technologies Program. “University Buildings”, 01/27/06.

2 Nashville Electric Service PowerNotes, July 2008.

3 Energy Star web page Proper Use Guidelines for Programmable Thermostats, 2008.

4 Energy Star web page Energy Star at Home and at Work August 2007.

5 ACC Environmental Consultants, Energy Saving Measures for Office Building Tenants.

6 Nashville Electric Service web page ” Residential Rates“, 2013.

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Lighting

Up to 25% of energy use in labs is attributable to lighting; a higher percentage than lighting uses in the typical office setting. This is due to both the type of work that is carried out in laboratories and the additional hours laboratories are occupied each week1. Decreasing demand for power by decreasing lighting demand in laboratories can go a long way in reaching our overall goal of a 15 percent reduction (or more) in power usage. Some suggestions for curbing our energy usage related to lighting are discussed below.

Have you heard the myth that it uses more energy to turn a light on and off frequently than to just leave it on? MythBusters set out to bust this myth and were successful! Turning off lights is the way to save energy, even if the room is unoccupied only for a few minutes. Click Here to get Mythbusters’ details on how “lights off” trumps “leave lights on”.

Decreasing lighting levels by turning off unneeded lights during summer afternoons is especially important, when the demand for electricity is at its peak. Turning off lights and utilizing day-lighting strategies can reduce energy demand by up to 50 percent during these times2.

In fact, daylighting is the most efficient light source for labs. Daylighting provides the most light for the amount of heat gain occurring in the lab (see figure below)1. Excess heat from artificial lighting has to be counteracted by air conditioning (which increases energy demand)1, so increasing the use of daylight is a smart and energy-efficient way to illuminate research areas.

Other energy reduction strategies for lighting in labs include:

  • Switching to Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) bulbs wherever possible. Energy Star-rated CFLs use 75% less energy than normal light bulbs and last up to 10 times longer3. There are many different kinds of CFLs available, and Vanderbilt has a CFL Recycling Program for the bulbs that (eventually) burn out.
  • Turning off task and desk lights when they are not in use.
  • Reducing or eliminating the use of halogen floor lamps. Halogen floor lamps can be dangerous because they operate at very high temperatures; they also use two to three times the energy of a traditional fluorescent bulb4.

The End Result

If Vanderbilt decreases its lighting demand by 15%, it would avoid consuming almost two megawatt-hours of electricity in a day!

But what does this mean?

Two megawatt-hours of electricity is the same amount of power consumed by 46 average-sized homes in Nashville in a day. That’s a lot of juice, Commodore Fans.

Check The Math

22% of power for lighting x 60 megawatt-hour consumption per day = 13.2 megawatts

15% of 13.2 megawatt-hours = 1.98 megawatt-hours

Energy consumption of one average house in Nashville for a day = 0.043 megawatt-hours5

References

1 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) Labs21 Program, Efficient Electric Lighting in Laboratories, August 2006.

2 Energy Center of Wisconsin, Energy Savings from Daylighting: A Controlled Experiment, Report No. 233-1, May 2008.

3 Energy Star™ web page Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs, 2008 .

4 California Energy Commission web page Lighting Efficiency Information, 07/01/08.

5 Nashville Electric Service web page “Residential Rates”, 2013.

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Laboratory Fume Hoods

Chemical fume hoods are the largest energy “hogs” in typical research and teaching laboratories. Chemical fume hoods consume energy in two ways: to power their fan system and by ventilating high volumes of conditioned air. Laboratories are required to have air that is 100% outside (fresh) air; no air is recirculated. Thus, a chemical fume hood “sucks” out this conditioned air at a high volume. While these measures protect lab occupants from exposure (which is important), it also consumes enormous amounts of energy. Closing the sashes when the hoods aren’t being used is the most effective way to balance the safety needs while reducing energy consumption. Closing chemical fume hoods when not in use can reduce energy by up to 60% at that hood1. When you consider that Vanderbilt has over 800 fume hoods, shutting the sash and turning off blowers when the hood is not in use can make a big difference!

Other fume hood facts to consider:

  • A University of Michigan study found that chemical fume hoods are used an average of 2.6 hours during an average workday2. That is only 10% of each day. Closing the sash could save over 50% of the energy used by that fume hood.
  • The energy that “escapes” from a chemical fume hood (in the form of conditioned air) over the course of a year is enough energy to power more than three residences for an entire year1.
  • University of California – Berkeley reduced energy use in one of their research buildings by over 5% just by closing chemical fume hoods, creating a savings of 19,000 kilowatt-hours over the course of a year3. That’s enough energy to power the average residence in Nashville for almost 15 months4.
  • Educating research faculty and staff on chemical fume hood energy conservation has been shown to be effective. Duke University saw a measurable decrease in the amount of air being exhausted from laboratories immediately following the roll-out of their training program on fume hood sash management5.

Did you know…a research building consumes 5 to 10 times more energy than an office building6?

References

1 Emig, Jaclyn, Harvard University. ’Shut the Sash’ Behavior Change Programs in Labs at Harvard, Labs21 Conference, October 2006.

2 Newman, Victor (P.E.), Precision Environments Group. ’VAV and Low Flow, Labs21 Conference, October 2007.

3 University of California – Berkeley Green Campus Program, “Shut the Sash Saves Net $21,000”, 07/07/08.

4 Nashville Electric Service web page “Residential Rates”, 2013 .

5 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Labs21 Program, Metrics and Benchmarks for Energy Efficiency in Laboratories, October 2007.

6 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Labs21 Program, An Introduction to Low Energy Design, August 2000.

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Laboratory Equipment

Research laboratory buildings consume 5 to 10 times more energy than an office building of a similar size1. “Plug-in” equipment like computers, printers, copiers, laboratory equipment, and appliances account for 17% of energy use at a typical university, according to the U.S. Department of Energy2. In comparison to other institutional and commercial buildings, laboratories have unusually high plug loads — the energy required to run equipment such as servers, centrifuges, and spectroscopes1. Unplugging equipment that is not in use and utilizing the energy savings settings can go a long way in reducing energy demand. Some suggestions for curbing our energy usage related to laboratory equipment are listed below.

General Lab Equipment

Unplug battery chargers and equipment when not in use. Plug-in battery chargers for can use up to 20 times more energy than is stored in the device’s battery—even when not actively charging a device, according to an EnergyStar web site3.

Does your research area have equipment that is cooled using chilled water? Reducing chilled water use is a great way to conserve energy at Vanderbilt. According to Labs21,

“Many pieces of lab equipment are “on” continuously, even when the process runs only a few hours per day or a few days per year. Often, the chilled water flow to some of this equipment is only a few gallons per minute. However, a continuous 1.5-gpm trickle flow through a small cooling unit adds up to 788,400 gallons of chilled water per year! Consider installing a control or solenoid valve in these applications allows water to flow only when the unit is being used. Another option is to use shut-off valves or timers to turn equipment off after normal working hours and when a process is shut down for maintenance or other reasons.” 4

Labs21 also suggests to shut off lab equipment that is not in use, or install an automatic shut-off feature if it does not interfere with the unit’s normal operations5.

Here are some additional energy conservation tips for laboratories from our friends at University of Colorado at Boulder6.

  • Turn off equipment when it is not in use and encourage others to do the same.
  • For sophisticated equipment, make it simple for co-workers to turn off equipment by posting procedures for proper start-up and shutdown. Post instructions on or next to the equipment.
  • Turn off centrifuges overnight or over the weekend. Prop centrifuges lids open when turning off units to reduce condensation. If centrifuges have removable rotors, remove rotors to prevent rusting/fusing of the rotor to the shaft. For a faster cool-down, rotors can be stored in cold rooms or refrigerators with excess room.
  • Use one vacuum pump with a cold trap for multiple pieces of equipment requiring this set up.

Refrigerators and Freezers

Provide freezers/refrigerators with proper spacing (2-3 inches minimum clearance from walls or obstructions).

Eliminate unnecessary freezers/refrigerators by getting rid of unnecessary items and combining contents into fewer freezers/refrigerators. (Note: Please contact Plant Services or Plant Operations if your department needs to get rid of an appliance.)

Instead of buying a freezer/refrigerator for additional space, eliminate old samples, solutions etc. from existing freezers/refrigerators.

Keep refrigerators and freezers organized (give each person a section) so that clean up/removal of old samples is easier. Before a group moves out of your area, ask them to get rid of unnecessary samples and condense their items into the smallest space possible.

For researchers with walk-in coolers or freezers, you should properly load the unit. Overloaded refrigeration units result in disrupted airflow, while under loaded units are using more energy than needed7.

When it comes time to replace that old refrigerator, purchase an EnergyStar-rated replacement. EnergyStar-qualified models use at least 20% less energy than their modern counterparts, and 40% of the energy compared to conventional models sold as recently as 20019.

Refer to manufacturer’s instructions for specific directions on how to best power down your lab equipment, or contact the manufacturer’s technical representative for more details.

The End Result

If Vanderbilt decreases its power demand for equipment by 15%, it would avoid consuming over 1.5 megawatt-hours of electricity a day on peak days!

But what does this mean?

That’s the same amount of electricity consumed by an 35 average-sized homes in Nashville in a day.

As noted above, research labs consume 5 to 10 times more energy than an office building2, so the opportunity for energy savings in research areas is tremendous!

Check The Math

17% of power for equipment x 60 megawatt-hours of consumption per day = 10.2 megawatts

15% of 10.2 megawatts = 1.53 megawatts

Energy consumption of one average house in Nashville for a day = 0.043 megawatt-hours8

References

1 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Labs21 Program, An Introduction to Low Energy Design, August 2000.

2 U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Office, Building Technologies Program. “University Buildings”, 01/27/06.

3 Energy Star™ web page External Power Supplies, 2008 .

4 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Labs21 Program, “Water Efficiency Guides for Laboratories, May 2005.

5 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Labs21 Program, Metrics and Benchmarks for Energy Efficiency in Laboratories, October 2007.

6 University of Colorado at Boulder, Lab Resource Conservation Tips, 2003.

7 Energy Star™ web page Larger Opportunities: Refrigeration, 2008.

8 Nashville Electric Service web page “Residential Rates”, 2013 .

9Energy Star web page Refrigerators & Freezers 2008.

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Computers and Office Equipment

Office equipment, computers, and appliances account for 17% of energy use at a typical university, according to the U.S. Department of Energy1. In comparison to other institutional and commercial buildings, laboratories have unusually high plug loads — the energy required to run equipment such as servers, centrifuges, and spectroscopes2. In fact, research labs consume 5 to 10 times more energy than an office building2. Unplugging equipment that is not in use and utilizing the energy savings settings can go a long way in reducing energy demand. Some suggestions for curbing our energy usage related to office equipment and laboratory equipment are listed below.

Use the “sleep mode” and “hibernate” settings on computers and monitors. If you need assistance on establishing sleep mode settings for computers and monitors, contact your LAN Manager.

Did you know…a computer in “sleep” mode or “hibernate” mode typically consumes less than 10% of its typical operating power consumption3?

Turning off your computer saves even more energy. Click here to read more about when it’s best to just power down. Even though there is a small surge in energy when a computer starts up, it’s still worth it3.

Furthermore, today’s computers are actually designed to withstand frequent shut-downs. Using energy savings settings and turning computers off extends the life of the computer4. If you are not allowed to turn off your computer, then turn off the monitor! Monitors can consume 30% of the energy from a typical system. An LCD monitor uses 30% less energy than an old-fashioned CRT monitor5.

Enabling sleep mode features for a monitor is just as important. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that a facility can expect to save 2,000 kilowatts of electricity per year for every 10 monitors that enable its sleep mode features6. That same amount of energy could provide power to a home in Nashville for six weeks7.

Unplug electronics when not in use. TVs, DVD players, entertainment systems, and similar devices draw power around the clock. See public service announcements on this topic from ABC News and Get Connected TV.

Utilize sleep mode settings for printers, copiers, and fax machines as well. Similar energy saving features (and misconceptions) surround computers and office equipment alike. Today’s imaging devices are designed to accommodate sleep mode settings and shut-downs, and using energy savings settings (along with turning machines off when they are not in use) extends the life of the device8. Even though there is a small surge in energy when an imaging device starts up, these practices save energy8.

Using the double-sided printing feature on EnergyStar-rated printers and copiers saves energy and reduces paper use significantly9. Even if your imaging equipment isn’t EnergyStar-rated, double-sided printing is still worth doing! It takes 10 times more energy to make a piece of paper than it does to copy an image to it9.

Also, use the automatic paper feeder on copiers and printers instead of the manual feed tray (which uses more energy)10. And make sure that the copier is properly sized for your area’s workload. A mid-volume printer can use 70% more energy than a small volume copier. Conversely, a mid-volume printer uses less energy than several small printers10. Link printers and copiers to a network and save electricity!

The End Result

If Vanderbilt decreases its power demand for equipment by 15%, it would avoid consuming over 1.5 megawatt-hours of electricity a day on peak days!

But what does this mean?

That’s the same amount of electricity consumed by an 35 average-sized homes in Nashville in a day.

As noted above, research labs consume 5 to 10 times more energy than an office building2, so the opportunity for energy savings in research areas is tremendous!

Check The Math

17% of power for equipment x 60 megawatt-hours of consumption per day = 10.2 megawatts

15% of 10.2 megawatts = 1.53 megawatts

Energy consumption of one average house in Nashville for a day = 0.043 megawatt-hours7

References

1 U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Office, Building Technologies Program. “University Buildings”, 01/27/06.

2 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Labs21 Program, “An Introduction to Low Energy Design”, August 2000.

3 U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Office, “A Consumer’s Guide to Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy: When to Turn Off Computers”, 07/22/08.

4 Energy Star™ Podcast No. 4.0, Computers, 10/25/07.

5 Dell Computers web page Frequently Asked Questions about Dell and the Environment, September 2003.

6 Energy Star™ web page Sleep in Good: For Computer Monitors and Your Bottom Line, September 2003.

7 Nashville Electric Service web page “Residential Rates”, 2013 .

8 Energy Star™ Podcast No. 4.1, Imaging Equipment, 10/25/07.

9 Federal Electronics Challenge web page Energy Conservation with Energy Star”, 05/26/06.

10 Eugene (Oregon) Water & Electric Board web page “Be an Energy Sleuth at Work”, Spring 2001.

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Miscellaneous Items

Lighting, heating & cooling, and office equipment consume a big part of Vanderbilt’s energy budget, and yet there are so many other activities that consume energy. Decreasing demand for power can be achieved by modifying practices in many areas. Think of One thing you can do each day to save energy.

Elevators

Use the elevator wisely and increase your use of the stairs. Consider these elevator facts:

  • Elevators generally use 3-5% of electricity consumed in a typical building, anywhere from 1,900 to 15,000 kilowatts per year1, around the same amount of power that the average residence consumes annually in Nashville2.
  • Elevators use electricity going up and going down; elevators are not “zero-net energy” machinery1.
  • Elevator use generates heat. Using elevators in hot summer months increases demand on air conditioning systems1.

Vanderbilt has hundreds of elevators. And as you know, there are significant health benefits to using the stairs!

The End Result

Can energy conservation really make a difference? Absolutely! When energy curtailment notices have been sent out in previous years, the Vanderbilt community has come together to reduce energy consumption by 8-12%. Let’s make this a year-long commitment and conserve energy by 15% or more!

You can make a difference! An EnergyStar study demonstrated that occupant behavior change six key areas can lead to a 15% decrease in energy use3!

The six key areas in the EnergyStar study were: (1) turning off computers and peripherals, (2) turning off lights and harvesting daylight, (3) turning off task lighting (those little lights in library cubicles or desks), (4) using “sleep mode” on computers and monitors, (5) using EnergyStar-rated equipment & computers, and (6) having an energy conservation campaign.

But don’t stop with these six conservation practices; opportunities to save energy exist throughout your workplace!

References

1 Sachs, Harvey M. Opportunities for Elevator Energy Efficiency Improvements, American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, April 2005.

2 Nashville Electric Service web page “Residential Rates“, 2013.

3 Energy Star web page, “Best Practices to Improve Energy Performance”, 2005.

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