Texas A&M Building Tune-Up Helps 300 Buildings

A building energy “tune-up” procedure developed by researchers at Texas A&M University’s Energy Systems Lab has so far yielded more than $100 million in energy savings from around 300 client buildings, the college has announced.

Developed by the university’s Energy Systems Laboratory in 1995, the energy tune-up, known as Continuous Commissioning, has been used by public and private sector clients in Texas and throughout the world, typically resulting in a 20 percent reduction in a building’s energy consumption.

In Continuous Commissioning, ESL experts employ tools, including diagnostic software, to identify a building’s energy inefficiencies, and then work with facility managers to identify and implement solutions that lead to energy savings and enhanced occupant comfort.

If additional controls are needed to set cooling equipment temperatures, improve comfort or save energy, the ESL’s software can estimate how much money the new equipment will save in reduced energy consumption. The engineers can also calibrate the building’s HVAC system and estimate the building’s future energy use, Texas A&M says.

Even buildings designed with energy efficiency in mind have realized significant declines in energy use from Continuous Commissioning, the university says.

A new senate office building in Austin was touted as a very energy efficient building and was initially very efficient, the university says. After it had been in operation a couple of years the team went in and lowered their energy use by more than 25 percent.

More than 80 buildings on Texas A&M’s College Station campus have undergone Continuous Commissioning, as have buildings at several Texas A&M System campuses, including Texas A&M International University in Laredo, where its buildings’ energy savings have been reduced between 15- 20 percent.

In San Antonio, the Brooke Army Medical Center and Alamo Colleges are enjoying Continuous Commissioning benefits, as are buildings at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. More than 30 military hospitals around the world and a dozen Veterans Administration hospitals are also benefiting from Continuous Commissioning performed by one of six practitioners licensed by the ESL.

Energy efficiency measures at Texas A&M have saved the university about $140 million during the past decade. From 2002 to 2012, the campus grew by about 25 percent in terms of square footage, but its energy use decreased from 364 million BTUs per square foot to 214 BTUs, a 40 percent drop. A combination of reduced consumption and more efficiencies created the decrease. In 2012, the university installed a combined heating and power system that requires one-third less fuel than an off-campus power plant with similar output.

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