The main goals of our project which is led by Prof. Michael Ohadi and Dr. Farah Singer, and sponsored by the facilities management (FM) of University of Maryland, College Park (UMD) are to (1) energy audit (EA) the campus buildings and data centers following ASRAE Energy Audit levels 1, 2 and 3, and to (2) contribute to UMD’s major energy reduction goals that span energy conservation in existing buildings, carbon-neutral new construction, and a transition to renewable energy sources, and finally to (3) spread awareness of reducing energy consumption among students and allow them effectively to participate in this effort.
Through this project, our team composed of grad and undergrad students, we investigate the issues leading to the buildings’ high annual utility rates - rendering them non-energy efficient - and we recommend solutions for these issues backed up by calculations and analysis. The buildings we audit are state-of-the-art academic facilities, and are diverse in their use (classrooms, laboratories, cleanrooms, recreations centers, gyms, residences, data centers, etc.), age (as old as 1950s, to as new as 2011), area (from 356,345 ft2 to 55,861 ft2), and history of renovations. Each building and data center constitutes a case study by itself and becomes a lead example in a campus-wide initiative to reduce UMD’s energy consumption and carbon footprint, as well as an example for other campuses to follow when performing audits to their buildings and data centers. The project can generally be divided into three phases: Building Comprehension, Energy Model Development, and Energy Conservation Measures Analysis. In all the project phases, ASHRAE standards 90.1 and 100 are extensively used as general guidelines for our EA. Building comprehension is a continuous process of data collection and analysis and includes: utility analysis, building walkthrough(s), archival review, and building automation system monitoring. The energy model development using open source DOE supported software like EnergyPlus or eQuest for buildings, and 6Sigma software from Future Facilities Ltd (Link: https://www.futurefacilities.com/) for data centers, begins after completing the utility analysis, initial building walkthrough, and once the archival review has begun. Building envelope and boundary conditions, fenestration, and construction materials, as well as space types, thermal zones, schedules, plant loops, and HVAC systems are all included in the model. Local weather data is used for accurate outdoor conditions. By simulating the model and then applying “what if” operational scenarios, we reach the project phase 3 of presenting the actions aimed at improving energy efficiency: the recommended energy conservation measures (ECMs). The combined cost and energy savings reduce the annual energy use by up to 20%. The simple payback period for the proposed measures vary from 2 years to less than one year. Our recommended ECMs for the buildings and Data centers we audited so far, would generate projected money savings of more than $2 million when successfully implemented. Due to the unique usage of various buildings we audited, our project also contributes to the development of energy consumption benchmarking data available for similar facilities. We share this valuable building data by disseminating our results in highly ranked journals and at conferences (please check our publications here).Click here for the Publications