18 Jul Making Adjustments and Saving Energy
By Liz Ivkovich, U of U Sustainability Office
The Marriott Library operates like a complicated piece of choreography.
The heating, ventilation, and air conditioning goes on and off, and it lets air into and out of the building in an overlapping sequence of operations. This dance is directed by the building automation system—a computer system that monitors the building’s electrical and mechanical equipment and tells each part what to do.
Thanks to the recently completed upgrade to the building automation system, the library is saving $270,000 in University energy costs a year.
The multi-year project began as an effort to better protect collections, with the added benefit of reducing the library’s energy use by 28 percent annually.
The library’s building automation system has to meet many needs at once and prevent various functions from stepping on each other’s toes. The system ensures a comfortable temperature while people are in the library and provides adequate ventilation to protect indoor air quality. It controls the humidity level within a safe range for valuable books and equipment. Additionally, it pressurizes the space so that no cold air leaks into the building. Given this operational complexity, it is not unusual for these systems perform inefficiently. Plus, building automation systems are more robust with today’s technology than when the library was renovated 10 years ago.
About the Library’s Solar Panels
About the Library’s Solar Panels
The system is 37.8 kW (126 300W panels grouped into 6 arrays) with an anticipated annual production of 50,500 kWh. It is located on the Marriott Library roof with 4 arrays on the west mechanical penthouse and 2 arrays on the east mechanical penthouse. The library uses about 8,500,000 kWh per year, accounting for roughly .6% of the building’s electrical energy consumption. Total cost of the project was somewhere near $130,000 and a Blue Sky grant covered $58,900.
The most noteworthy thing about the project is it was initiated by student leaders in Associated Students of the University of Utah (ASUU). At the end of the 2012 school year, ASUU contributed $100,000 toward the installation of solar PV on campus. Approximately $75,000 funded a system on the new business building and the remainder was applied to the library project. Later on, a student in the sustainability program developed a dashboard display illustrating the amount of power generated in real time. Hence, the library’s project was a student-led
The library upgrades addressed both the issue of outdated technology and provided an opportunity for more thoughtfully designed sequences of operation. Much of the work went into rearranging the choreography— changing the order of instructions for the automation system to run more efficiently. By using many of the system’s existing components, Facilities Management was able to lower the price tag of the upgrade.
“If we replaced the entire mechanical system, we’d have had an insanely high cost,” said Chris Benson, Sustainability & Energy Program Manager. “We carefully chose the sensors, the controllers, and labor to pull wires and really focused on adjusting the sequences of operation. It makes a huge difference to make sure we get the right sequences the building really requires. That’s where we get the best return on investment.”
The upgrades began in 2014 on the first floor, expanded to include special collections on the fourth floor, and all other floors by the project’s conclusion.
In addition to energy reduction, the upgrades will also aid in preservation. Special Collections and its curators and archivists are tasked with safeguarding some of the most valuable assets of the State of Utah. Items held by Special Collections include more than 80,000 rare books, maps, and ephemera as well as moving image and sound archives and manuscript collections. Before the upgrade, the floor experienced frequent leaks and challenges in temperature and humidity control. Thanks to the upgrades, leaks have been reduced dramatically and the environmental control has stabilized.
“Whether the collections we are have curated are 2,000 years old or printed yesterday, we have a responsibility to ensure they are protected for the University and world communities for generations and mitigating water risks and stabilizing climate control helps us do that,” said Ian Godfrey, director of library facilities.
Not only have the library’s book and paper residents benefited from the upgrades, its human occupants are enjoying more control over their environment. The upgrades enable employees to regularly adjust their thermostats for more comfortable temperatures during chilly winter and hot summer days.
The upgrades wouldn’t be possible without the dedicated work of staff in University Planning, Design & Construction, Marriott Library, Facilities Management, as well as vendors Spectrum Engineers, Wasatch Controls, and ETC Group.
With more than 200 campus structures with automation building systems similar to the one in the Marriott Library, the U has many more opportunities to implement these kinds of upgrades. On with the dance… of energy efficiency.