Boasting more than 1,200 faculty members and more than 27,000 students, University of Massachusetts at Amherst is the largest public research university in New England. Now in its 151st year, the campus is consistently ranked among the nation’s top public research universities.
UMass Amherst utilized a comprehensive approach to energy savings in 2013. Projects included lighting, HVAC equipment, implementation of variable frequency drives, energy management systems and controls, and gas turbine efficiency upgrades at the combined heat and power plant. UMass Amherst received more than $1,224,760 in energy efficiency improvement support from Western Massachusetts Electric Company (WMECO), which enabled completion of the projects. As a result, the university saved more than 9.46 million kWh.
Two new projects specifically highlight the University’s commitment to energy efficiency. The Life Science Laboratories, which provides state-of-the-art research space, targeted LEED Silver certification and utilized numerous energy efficiency features, including a heat recovery chiller, low-flow fume hoods, energy recovery ventilation, daylight harvesting, lighting controls, radiant floor heating, a water reclamation system, and low flow plumbing fixtures. The lab opened in the fall of 2013, as did the Commonwealth Honors College Residential Complex, a residential and teaching facility which incorporated daylight harvesting, lighting controls, and natural ventilation, in addition to efficient mechanical HVAC systems, low flow plumbing fixtures, and an exterior landscape with plantings that do not require irrigation.
In addition to ensuring the energy efficiency of new construction projects, UMass Amherst is also improving energy efficiency in existing buildings. Projects include a number of efficiency measures at the Lincoln Campus Center, including air handler operations, chilled water and condenser water system improvements, heating and cooling valve repair, occupancy scheduling to reduce equipment run-time during unoccupied hours, and the implementation of variable speed drives. This effort resulted in annual savings of 482,630 kWh.
In early 2013, more than 1,100 LED light bulbs were installed across campus. This will save 637,264 kWh annually. However, the University has seen far more than electric savings. Thanks to upgrades at combined heat and power (CHP) plant, they have also reduced consumption of natural gas, liquefied natural gas, and ultra-low sulfur diesel.
As its students look toward the future, so does UMass Amherst. The University has entered into a strategic alliance with Northeast Utilities/WMECO to continue growing and developing energy reduction work on campus. This alliance provides a roadmap of sustainability support which will help UMass Amherst reduce costs, increase overall efficiency, and improve building operations. Efforts are also underway to develop an Energy Master Plan that will ensure the reliable delivery of energy to the campus for the next 30 years.
Now, and for generations to come, UMass Amherst gets an A+ for energy efficiency.