Buildings account for 40% of the U.S. energy consumption. At the 2012 Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) annual conference, Trane and University of Virginia (UVA) — Monday, Oct. 15, in Los Angeles — leaders discussed how the university is collaborating with the private sector to generate research and funding that can help reduce energy consumption from the operation of buildings. Larry Cummings, marketing manager for Trane, and Jeffrey E. Sands, associate dean for advancement at the UVA School of Engineering and Applied Science, provided data on best practices for the academic community and for government and industry collaborators.
UVA’s newly constructed LEED-certified six-story Rice Hall features sophisticated technologies for heating, cooling and lighting that allow it to function as a living laboratory on energy use. Students and faculty at Rice Hall, which opened in late 2011, are collaborating with private sector leaders such as Trane to provide financial support for researchers to learn about the latest energy technologies for large buildings. The completed research then directs development of efficient solutions by the private sector.
Researchers are comparing data on individual floors that use different heating and cooling systems, and conducting experiments to optimize the performance of these technologies. Building labs and offices are designed to compare different heating, cooling and lighting solutions. The building’s powerful instrumentation system is collecting data that demonstrate not only superior technologies, but also how to optimize their use. Energy dashboards provide information on energy consumption for the building and various buildings across the campus.