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University heats more space with less energy

By Sookhan Ho

Spectrum Volume 19 Issue 31 - May 22, 1997

The university has been able to heat more space using less energy per square foot, thanks to various energy conservation measures.

Briefing members of the Board of Visitors' Buildings and Grounds Committee at its recent meeting, Spencer Hall, assistant vice president of facilities, noted that the heated area on campus has increased by about 28 percent during the past two-and-a-half decades.

The amount of energy or BTU's required to heat each gross square foot, however, has declined by 17 percent.

Among the measures taken over the years to conserve energy, Hall said, was the installation of more than one million square feet of single-ply insulated roofing to replace uninsulated roofing. Facilities staff members repaired and re-insulated major steam lines and repaired various piping valves and traps in the steam tunnels. Thermostatic control valves were installed on more than 1,000 radiators.

In cooling conservation, Hall reported that old cooling towers in four major buildings were replaced, resulting in improved operation and efficiency. Major pipes distributing chilled-water supply have also been replaced, eliminating leakage and improving overall efficiency.

Not surprisingly, the use of electricity on campus has gone up steadily, from about 12 kilowatt hours per gross square foot in 1974 to about 22 kilowatt hours per gross square foot. Hall attributed part of the increased demand for power to the larger number of students enrolled and to the number of electrical appliances that students bring with them: computers, TV's, stereos, microwaves, and refrigerators. Other significant sources of power consumption, Hall said, were faculty research and lighting for parking-lot security.

The facilities under Physical Plant's care include 307 buildings, 80 acres of roof area, a 15-mile storm-drainage system, 13 miles of water lines, 10 miles of sanitary sewage lines, and 15 miles each of sidewalks and roads. Overall, some 2,000 acres of grounds are maintained, 800 of which are "intensely maintained."