Energy Management Group — Group
Auburn University, Auburn, AL
The Facilities Energy Management (FEM) staff are the largely unseen, unsung heroes when it comes to improving Auburn’s sustainability performance. Energy is one of our biggest challenges and opportunities. Buildings use 40% of total energy consumption in the U.S. and FEM’s purpose is to make sure that Auburn’s buildings operate as effectively and efficiently as possible.
To address energy efficiency, FEM developed an Energy Reduction Strategy, one of the most important climate-related initiatives underway at Auburn. FEM created a set of aggressive energy use reduction goals to lower energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions. FEM uses several strategies to achieve its goals. Nearly every campus building has been metered, resulting in real-time tracking of electricity, gas, and water use. This data is monitored to immediately identify leaks and other issues for rapid response, and to rank buildings so that FEM can prioritize projects to achieve the largest improvements in energy and water use. FEM has developed a building commissioning, recommissioning, and retrocommissioning program to improve and upgrade building mechanicals to ensure efficient and optimal operating conditions, saving money and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Some results of their efforts include:
- 13.9% reduction in electricity intensity since 2004
- 17.5% reduction in gas intensity since 2010
- 35.4% reduction in water intensity since 2007
- 15% reduction in energy use per square foot since 2006
- As the result of one project in the Auburn Arena, FEM achieved annual savings of over $120,000 in energy costs and a reduction of over 2,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.
The way FEM works makes a difference too. FEM takes a collaborative outreach and educational approach when working with clients and the campus community. FEM partners with clients affected by projects to create optimal outcomes, and gives tours of energy plants and solar arrays to campus groups. FEM mentors students through guest lectures and by advising student design teams conducting building operations studies to improve the performance of campus infrastructure. FEM works closely with building managers to identify and fix problems, develop best management practices, and provide ongoing training as building mechanicals are upgraded. FEM works closely with building occupants to create efficient, pleasant, and healthy living and working conditions. Clients are known to express gratitude for the responsiveness and helpfulness of the FEM team at all hours of the day and night.
FEM is also aggressive about continuing education, staying current as new technologies, strategies, and techniques emerge so that they can be evaluated for use on Auburn’s campus. FEM partners closely with the Office of Sustainability to evaluate innovative next steps in energy efficiency and renewable energy use. Some options in various stages of investigation and analysis include increasing renewable energy use, a Combined Heat and Power facility, providing additional electric vehicle charging stations, and the use of alternative fuel vehicles for the campus fleet. The work of the Facilities Energy Management group goes on behind the scenes and is often unnoticed, but over time FEM has had a very significant, positive operational impact on Auburn’s sustainability performance.