Conserving Energy

Energy Management at Penn

An effective energy management and conservation strategy is an integral component of the Climate Action Plan, as decreasing or eliminating energy consumption is the most direct method of reducing the University’s carbon footprint. Over 86 percent of carbon produced by Penn is from building energy usage.

If immediate actions are not taken to reduce energy on both institutional and individual levels, Penn will nearly double its total carbon emissions by 2050. To address this, Penn has established a goal to cut its campus energy use by 17 percent by 2014.

Implementing the Climate Action Plan will:

  • Develop and monitor energy conservation programs to encourage sustainable behavior among building occupants and ensure efficient management by staff
  • Improve and accelerate the renovation process for existing buildings
  • Adopt higher energy efficiency standards for new buildings and expand research of renewable energy investments

Conservation Initiatives

Bear Creek Wind Farm

WIND ENERGY

In 2001, Penn became a national leader in the use of renewable energy through its agreement to purchase 20 million kilowatt hours of wind-generated power per year for three years. Penn funded the premium cost of wind energy through savings from an aggressive energy-conservation program that reduced peak demand by 18 percent. In September 2002, the Federal Environmental Protection Agency and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection honored the University for its commitment to alternative energy consumption. In 2003, Penn extended its wind power purchase to a 10-year commitment, providing sustained funding that led to the construction of a new 12-turbine wind farm in Pennsylvania.

FRES Operations Control Center

OPERATIONS COMMAND CENTER

Penn saves more than $5-million annually in energy costs through state-of the-art central monitoring and control of utilities. From its Operations Command Center, Penn engineers can control campus-wide chilled water and steam utilities, and air-handling systems in buildings across the campus. Through sophisticated temperature/time optimization, temperature setback, and demand management techniques, Penn is able to avoid costly peak utility charges and conserve energy year-round.

Mod VII Chiller Plant

CHILLED WATER LOOP

Campus buildings are fed from a central chilled water loop completed in 2007 after 19 years of planned incremental growth and an investment of over $200 million. Penn's chiller plant freezes water at night when energy costs are low to provide supplemental daytime cooling capacity, reducing Penn's burden on the regional electrical grid and saving money.

Members of the Penn Community may view total electricity usage for campus overall and by building by clicking here. (PennKey required).

TC Chan Center

TC CHAN CENTER CONSULTANCIES

The University has commissioned the School of Design's TC Chan Center to provide both a building-by-building campus energy model, and a comprehensive greenhouse gas inventory. This work, carried out over the past several years, will allow the Division of Facilities and Real Estate Services to simulate efficiency and greenhouse gas reduction strategies in design, construction and energy management. The inventory provides a benchmark to measure future conservation efforts.

To see the TC Chan Center website, click here.

Light Bulb Exchange

LIGHT BULB EXCHANGE

Each fall, the student-run Penn Environmental Group (PEG) partners with the Division of Facilities and Real Estate Services (FRES) to offer replacement compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) to students for use in their on-campus residences. In 2007, over 1000 incandescent bulbs were replaced by students in their rooms and common spaces, resulting in significant energy savings. In 2009, over 700 CFLs were handed out by members of the Sustainability Team to Penn students during the Fall move-in period.

To learn more about previous Light Bulb Exchange events, click here.
 
Most College Houses provide CFLs at their information desks, so be sure to check your front desk before heading out to the store.

Aircuity

 

AIRCUITY AND ZONE PRESENCE SENSORS

Over the summer of 2009, Penn Facilities and Real Estate Services (FRES), Environmental Health and Radiation Safety (EHRS), and University Laboratory Animal Resources (ULAR) continued a 2008 energy conservation pilot that installed Aircuity’s OptiNet system to reduce excessive airflow in laboratories and vivaria, two of the campus’ biggest energy consumers.

OptiNet is an intelligent air monitoring system unlike any other system currently on the market. It operates on the concept of demand control ventilation, which determines the quantity of outside air necessary in a facility in proportion to its occupancy and air cleanliness based on a set of parameters: carbon monoxide (CO), carbon dioxide (CO2), particulates, total volatile organic compounds (TVOC), temperature, and relative humidity.

The pilot, installed in one vivarium suite in Hill Pavilion and in one lab suite in the Lynch Life Sciences Building for just over a year, already is producing significant energy savings in both buildings. Since the installation of the pilot Aircuity systems, significant energy savings have been realized with no deterioration in indoor air quality; the estimated payback period is less than two years. The pilot program is now being expanded to other vivaria as well as to the Translational Research Center, now under construction.

Green IT

GREEN IT

Organizations throughout Penn are examining their computing practices in an effort to conserve energy. From using software solutions to automatically power down computers to conducting local awareness campaigns to remind users to shut down devices when they are not in use, Penn IT staff are working together with the rest of the Penn community to use less electricity. For more information and best practices related to powering down computing devices, visit the Green IT web site.

Computer Connection

COMPUTER CONNECTION

The Computer Connection, located at the back of the Penn Bookstore, has items that can save both money and energy, including solar-powered battery chargers, energy-saving surge strips and duplex laser printers. In addition to being energy efficient, items such the Simple Tech hard drive are made with renewable, naturally grown bamboo and recyclable aluminum. To learn more, visit the Computer Connection website.