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Energy Initiatives

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People involved in Energy Initiatives at the Celebrating Sustainability Festival

Winter Closure

Since 2001, the annual Winter Closure Program has identified the two-week campus shutdown over the winter holidays as an opportunity to conserve energy by turning off heating and ventilation systems in most buildings across campus. The two-week shutdown became mandatory in 2003 through a program administered jointly by the Department of Sustainability, Utilities, and Infrastructure and Zone Management. To encourage participation from building occupants and students, Stanford hosts a Turn Off for Break campaign that focuses on individual contributions to energy conservation in offices, labs, and dorms. Since its inception, Winter Closure has resulted in a cumulative net energy cost savings of nearly $5 million.

Integrated Controls and Analytics Project (ICAP)

In 2017, Stanford launched the Integrated Controls and Analytics (iCAP) program, a pioneering initiative focused on maximizing the efficiency of building operations through central controls systems. As part of iCAP, the university implemented over 35 building control and upgrade projects. Wallenberg Hall, one of the larger iCAP projects completed in 2018, reduced energy usage by nearly 40% in its first year, and was jointly funded by the ERP program and Buildings and Grounds Management (BGM). In the next ten years, iCAP projects will be implemented in over 100 additional campus buildings. Stanford’s Facilities Energy Management (FEM) team works closely with partners to gather additional benefits from control systems data, using new software analytics tools like fault detection and diagnostics, predictive maintenance, and performance optimization. Stanford is utilizing Skyspark, a fault detection software, to retrocommission multiple buildings. Recommissioning the Knight Management Center is expected to save over $100,000 in energy savings.

Lab Airflow Management

The FEM team continues to work collaboratively with Environmental Health & Safety, building occupants, and operations staff to further improve airflow management in large laboratory buildings. These facilities are typically the largest energy consumers on campus due to the amount of ventilation required for occupant safety. Studies conducted in 2014 identified innovative strategies to reduce HVAC-related energy needs in lab buildings, and WBERP projects are included in their retrofits. In one research building, a combination of schedules and sensors reduces the frequency of air changes in a laboratory during unoccupied hours. At the Chem-Bio Lokey Building, lab airflow experts performed tests to confirm that hood airflow could be reduced when sashes are closed, while still meeting all health and safety standards.

Return Temperature Optimization (RTO) Program

The Stanford Energy Systems Innovations (SESI) project was established in an effort to reduce campus greenhouse gas emissions, while also saving a significant amount in operating costs over the project’s lifespan. SESI involved converting gas-powered steam boilers to a campus heating and cooling system, and switching conventional chillers to electrically-powered Heat Recovery Chillers (HRCs). To ensure maximum energy and resource savings while keeping utility rates low, the system must function effectively to ensure the HRCs receive optimal return water after it has been distributed and utilized for heating or cooling purposes by the campus. Otherwise, the HRCs consume more electricity and are at risk for premature failure. Through the RTO program, engineers from FEM, Zone Management, and Energy Operations work together to identify opportunities to optimize campus heating and cooling usage by implementing mechanical improvements and controls programming changes in buildings. Since its inception in 2014, the RTO program has completed work in over 45 campus buildings, and on average has improved return temperatures by 8°F.

RTO Case Studies

Since the campus converted to SESI and established HRCs, LBRE has worked aggressively to maintain optimal thermal conditions to ensure HRC reliability and lower operating costs. This is achieved through minimizing flow rates and hot water return temperatures, and by maximizing chilled water return temperatures at campus buildings. Below are examples of completed projects.

Arrillaga Outdoor Education and Recreation Pool

The pool heating control was upgraded from open/closed to modulating control, which allowed for tighter and more efficient control. To optimize heat exchange performance, flow rates were slowed to maximize heat transfer rates.

Graph of valve control on/off contrast in order to modulate temperature
Falk Cardiovascular Center

Several areas of excess chilled water flow were identified at Falk.  Root causes included failed cooling valves on building air handler units, as well as 3-way valves that prevented the building from using chilled water, instead returning unused water to the plant.  After these issues were addressed, a dramatic increase in return temperature and dramatic decrease in flow rates were observed.

Graph with change of return temperature and flow rates

Energy Retrofit Program (ERP)

Since 1993, the ERP program has provided more than $15 million for projects to improve energy efficiency, and to reduce utility demand and associated building and maintenance costs. Rebates cover some or all of the upgrade costs, depending on the project payback period. Over 500 ERP projects have been completed, with cumulative annual savings of 41 million kilowatt-hours of electricity, 1,200,000 ton-hours of chilled water, and 21 million MBtu of hot water/steam, or cumulatively over $7 million at current utility rates. Any campus department that is a customer of Stanford Utilities can apply for ERP rebates for projects that save electricity or thermal energy. For more information, review the ERP Guidelines or contact Leslie Kramer.

ERP Case Studies

Clark Center | Hagey Research Facility | Wilbur Dining Hall

ERP Express: Office Equipment

The Cardinal Green Office Program aims to reduce electrical consumption within individual workstations and shared office areas. To support facility managers and building champions who seek an extra incentive to make strategic purchases and operational decisions, ERP Express for Office Equipment offers small rebates for the purchase and installation of appliance timers and Smart Strips. Download the ERP express application form for eligibility requirements, terms and conditions, as well as other important information about the rebate program.

ERP Express: Laboratory Equipment

Researchers on campus can qualify for rebates through ERP Express for Laboratory Equipment. Sustainability, Utilities, and Infrastructure (SUI) offers rebates to labs that utilize room temperature storage and/or replace old ultra-low temperature freezers with more efficient models. Rebates can also be provided for other types of lab equipment, such as incubators and lasers, if proven energy-efficient models are purchased. Funding is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Offered as part of the Green Labs program, there are several targeted opportunities available for labs to operate more sustainably. 

Learn more about Green Labs

Building Ongoing Commissioning Program

Stanford systematically reviews the HVAC systems of 90 of its largest buildings, and adjusts or repairs the systems to ensure they work as designed. Technicians who conduct the reviews also recommend ways to further improve energy performance through ERP projects. All 90 buildings have been through an initial round of retro-commissioning and each building is revisited every four years.