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VU Main Campus Energy Efficiency and Conservation Accomplishments

In 2008, the Division of Administration at Vanderbilt formed a three-pronged approach to reducing campus utility usage: improvements in existing buildings needing renovation; efficient systems in new buildings being constructed on campus, and; education of campus occupants in utility-conserving behaviors when using buildings. VU Plant Operations personnel are constantly looking at ways to reduce energy consumption by substituting and matching the most energy efficient products to specific applications.

Existing Building Energy Performance Improvements

Plant Operations has improved existing building energy efficiency while also addressing operational deficiencies through the following projects:

  • Buttrick Hall – Building automation system adjustments, night temperature setbacks
  • Cole Hall – HVAC renovation
  • Jacobs / Featheringill Engineering – Building automation system adjustments
  • Law School – Lighting retrofit, building automation system and HVAC upgrades
  • McGill Hall – HVAC renovation
  • Memorial Gym – Lighting control
  • OGSM – Building automation system upgrade, lighting retrofit
  • Olin Hall – Building automation system upgrade, HVAC renovation
  • Rand Hall – Chiller replacement, Building automation system upgrade, HVAC renovation/re-commissioning
  • Sarratt – Chiller replacement, building automation system upgrade, HVAC re-commissioning
  • Studio Arts – Building automation system adjustments
  • Tennis Center – Lighting retrofit, lighting control
  • Tolman Hall – HVAC renovation
  • McTyeire Hall – Building automation system upgrade, chiller replacement
  • Heard Library – Lighting retrofit and control, HVAC renovations

Since 2007, these improvements have saved 12,513,500 kwh, 7,300 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, and $1,260,000 in electricity/steam/chilled water costs.

Currently, Plant Operations has additional projects underway in the following buildings:

  • Commons Center – Building automation system re-commissioning, night setbacks
  • Kennedy – Building automation system upgrade, demand control ventilation
  • Wilson Hall – Air handling unit and chiller replacement, building automation system upgrade

Energy Efficiency in New Buildings/LEED Certification

Since 2008, Campus Planning and Construction has incorporated energy conserving features in 10 new buildings or large renovations on main campus that have subsequently been certified as energy efficient under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program of the U.S. Green Building Council. The following buildings are LEED-certified on VU main campus:

LEED Certification LevelBuilding
BasicChef James Bistro in Rand
SilverCrawford House
Sutherland House
Gillette House
Benson Hall
Library Archives
GoldThe Commons Center
Stambaugh House
Hank Ingram House
Murray House

Energy Use Behavioral Change Projects

The Sustainability and Environmental Management Office (SEMO) encourages improvement in energy usage behaviors amongst the VU campus community through the ThinkOne energy conservation program. Research indicates that universities can conserve up 10-15% of their utility demand through aggressive educational and behavioral change programs, at very little cost to the university. Thus, SEMO has partnered over the years with a wide variety of departments and groups to design and promote behavioral improvements in the energy use of faculty, staff and students.

A few examples include the following:

  • In 2008, SEMO partnered with the Psychology department and Peabody College in an IRB-approved study to test the effectiveness of energy conservation interventions (feedback, peer education) on staff and faculty in 24 academic buildings on main campus. This year-long project produced 3-9% annual electricity savings for the buildings in the study, and results were published in 2009 as a doctoral dissertation.
  • During the 2008 study, SEMO developed the ThinkOne energy conservation website, to educate VU faculty, staff and students on actions they can take to reduce energy consumption while on campus.
  • In 2009, SEMO worked closely with Dean of Students office and VSG to develop a peer education program for residential students, termed “Eco-Dores.” 34 undergraduate students volunteer each year to act as peer environmental educators for each residence hall on campus, and SEMO supports these volunteers by providing high quality energy conservation education and support in developing outreach activities.
  • In 2010, the Dean of the Commons office chose to include energy conservation as one of five criteria measured during the Commons Cup competition. This year-long project resulted in ~100,000 kwh and $10,000 savings in the 10 Commons Houses and was submitted by two School for Science and Math at Vanderbilt (SSMV) students in the Siemens Corp.’s national “We Can Change the World” competition. The SSMV students finished third out of 24 finalists nationally. They will each receive a $5,000 scholarship and SSMV will receive a $500 grant. Read more…
  • In Spring 2011, Plant Operations and Dean of Students Office agreed with VSG and SPEAR to set aside $75,000 in a “Green Fund” that will fund energy conservation project ideas submitted by VU students. This project has just launched, and the first crop of 24 projects was recently reviewed by the Green Fund Working Group. Three projects were chosen to receive funding: “VU Solar Initiative,” “Lights Out,” and “Green Showers.” Implementation of these projects will occur over Summer 2011, and a new application and funding cycle will commence in Fall 2011.

In academic year 2011/2012, plans include expansion of the ThinkOne behavioral change project into VU’s laboratory and research areas as well as partnership with the College of Arts and Sciences in the faculty-based “Year of Sustainability”.