BU Continues Energy Saving Initiative

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As part of the University’s commitment to sustainability, Facilities is collaborating with a number of vendors  on a variety of lighting and mechanical projects to reduce energy use on campus.  Bluestone Energy Services is a design/build engineering firm that specializes in analyzing energy use in commercial and industrial facilities to determine potential improvements.   Bluestone’s clients include a number of major corporations. Some of their past customers include Gillette, American Airlines, Verizon and GE.  The company offers turnkey solutions to modify existing systems as well as proposals for future multi-year plans to upgrade major infrastructure.

Over the past 3 years the University has worked with Bluestone on 6 major lighting upgrade projects at Fit Rec, Agganis Arena, the Agganis Arena parking garage, the College of Arts and Sciences, Sargent College and the College of Engineering.  Many buildings at the University are using older, lighting fixtures that do not utilize the latest energy saving technology.  To find the best solution, Bluestone conducted audits in the spaces to count light fixtures and redesign lighting. Upgrades included retrofitting existing lighting with high efficiency fluorescent or LED lights and installation of occupancy controls.  They also replaced traditional mercury lamps and ballasts with low mercury systems. The occupants get new efficient lighting and the University enjoys an attractive payback.

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BU has also collaborated with Bluestone on mechanical projects. The most recent project was an upgrade to the HVAC system at 10 Buick Street which was finished in 2011.  The project involved retrofitting fan coil units that serve each of the 234 residential suites in the building. These units, which run 24/7 and provide heating, cooling and fresh air to the suites, were changed to newer, more efficient models. The motors were exchanged for higher efficiency models with a variable frequency drive (VFD).  The VFD varies the speed of the fan motor based on cooling requirements by taking a signal from the thermostat, therefore is much more efficient.  This project was a great opportunity for the University and qualified for a significant utility funded incentive and rebate.  The energy savings were accomplished with little or no impact to the residents.  The costs savings are long term and provide opportunities for future project savings.

In total, these 7 projects saved over 3 million kWh of electricity and reduced the University’s greenhouse gas emissions by 1,456 MTCO2e annually. This is equivalent to  268 cars or 37,324 trees.

Bluestone is currently evaluating other University facilities including academic research buildings.  They expect to propose measures to improve HVAC efficiency and additional lighting retrofits while still providing all the functionality needed by our research community.