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UMass banks savings from energy management efforts

image credit: Credit: UMass Lowell

Facilities managers at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell are using energy management tools to alert faculty, staff and students on campus to turn off unneeded computers, appliances and lights for a few hours to lower the university’s energy usage.

“Regional energy consumption is reaching undesirable or unsustainable peak loads,” warns a typical notification, which usually comes during heat waves when air conditioning load is highest  across New England. 

When the message went out on July 30 last year as the temperature hit 96 degrees, faculty and staff dialed back air conditioners and closed blinds. From 3 to 6 p.m. that day, the university slashed its consumption by 2.2 megawatts.

That turned out to be the three peak summer load hours that the university’s grid operator, ISO New England, used to calculate its commercial and industrial customers’ transmission cost, or “capacity tag,” for 2020.

Based on the university’s demand response that day, its capacity tag was reduced by 45 percent this year,  which is projected to translate into $180,000 in energy cost avoidance.

The university participates in three demand response programs: the ISO-New England Active Demand Capacity Resource, National Grid’s Connected Solutions Targeted Dispatch program and CPower’s Peak Demand Management System, which determines the capacity tag.

To help manage its demand response efforts, the university uses a building management system called Automated Logic. Operators can increase the central air conditioner set points to 78 degrees in buildings that are tied into the system. Reducing the use of chillers and their associated airflow system fans results in the university’s biggest energy savings.

The pandemic-caused shutdown has decreased energy consumption across campus. Buildings have maintained a minimum baseload of power to run computer servers, card access readers and emergency and safety components. Air conditioning also has been limited. Now, as the campus works to reopen for the fall, Facilities Management is starting to bring systems back online to make sure they are running effectively.

David Wagman's picture

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