Tackling Campus Energy Management During a Pandemic

Honor Donnie  |  August 12, 2020   |  Energy & Sustainability  


As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, university campuses across the country are making the switch to online courses for the foreseeable future. Despite the lack of students and faculty on campus, energy efficiency should remain a priority. Now is the ideal time for colleges and universities to reassess their consumption and explore ways to improve campus energy management. 

Whether schools are looking for ways to reduce costs or support sustainability initiatives, the temporary transition to remote courses during this time allows them to take a more in-depth look at energy management while there’s less traffic on campuses. Here’s how campus facility managers can use this time to audit energy performance data and find areas for improvement.

Track and improve operational efficiency with smart technology

The shift to smart technology on college campuses isn’t a new trend. The incorporation of smart tech has enabled colleges and universities to automate campus energy management, improve their efficiency efforts, lower operational costs, and identify performance issues that might need repairs. 58 percent of IT and administrative campus leaders say smart buildings and utility monitoring provide a key benefit to campuses.

58% of IT and administrative campus leaders say smart buildings and utility monitoring provide a key benefit to campuses.

For ten years, the University of Washington has meticulously carried out the UW Smart Energy Project. Over this time, the school has installed more than 2,000 smart meters that generate real-time data on energy and water consumption. 

From 2013 to 2017, energy audits have shown that the school saved $5,660,593 in utility costs. UW’s use of smart technology has thus enabled the school to not only reduce energy consumption and costs but also prove the results to gain buy-in for future projects. 

Implement best practices to maintain efficiency

The pandemic will also cause high fluctuations in occupancy and operating hours, which can have detrimental effects on utility costs. To ensure that facilities continue to operate efficiently, college campuses should implement best practices to improve building performance and minimize energy costs. 

For instance, empty buildings still consume a lot of energy, so facility managers should prioritize the monitoring of utility usage to identify what times of day see the highest consumption and pinpoint lighting or equipment that can be turned off to reduce it. Many building systems can’t be shut down completely because that could damage chillers, boilers, and the building’s air quality, but facility managers can still make smaller adjustments to limit utility usage.

Read more >> How K-12 Schools Are Adapting to COVID-19 

Additionally, lighting accounts for 10 to 20 percent of a building’s energy consumption. To reduce these costs, all non-emergency lighting should be turned off. Campuses can also reconfigure their building control systems by adjusting HVAC usage during peak hours, which accounts for roughly a third or more of energy consumption. Energy management systems can automate many of these daily adjustments to lessen the burden on facility managers. 

Support campus energy management with interval data

When it comes to campus energy management, your efforts are only as good as your data. Granular energy data can show facility managers which times of day and which areas of campus are consuming the most energy, so they can pinpoint how and when to shut things down. Whether a school plans to reopen this fall or remain closed, granular data can play a vital role in understanding what steps need to be taken to ensure facilities are operating at peak efficiency.

Urjanet’s Utility Interval Data service provides campus facility managers with the energy usage detail they need to meet their energy and sustainability goals. And best of all: it’s fully digital. Urjanet provides next-day meter readings down to hourly intervals from submeters already installed by the utility, so there’s no need for physical onsite visits or expensive hardware. 

To learn more about how you can improve your decision-making, conserve your budget, and get more granular with campus energy management, speak with one of our data experts today.



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About Honor Donnie

Honor Donnie is a Marketing Intern at Urjanet, with a passion for content creation. When she’s not at Urjanet, she can be found studying Political Science at Clark Atlanta University.

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