Cash-strapped school cuts bills with high-tech ventilation

A state university on a tight budget found one answer to its cost-cutting efforts in advanced technology that manages its indoor air quality.

Heating, cooling and ventilation are actually quite energy-intensive, consuming about 18 percent of all the energy used in non-residential buildings in the US. That’s why officials at Michigan’s Grand Valley State University decided to launch a ventilation improvement project at one of its campus buildings.

With the help of a company called Aircuity, the university installed “intelligent” ventilation technologies at its Padnos Hall Laboratory, and found that better air management helped it to save both energy and money. By using sensors to remotely monitor and control how air is moved through the building, Aircuity’s OptiNet system reduced air changes in the laboratory, managed exhaust and provided “demand controlled ventilation” (DCV) that cut the school’s expenses by around $58,000 a year.

Not only that, the project has now won the title of Energy Project of the Year from Region III of the Association of Energy Engineers.

Following the two-phase ventilation improvement project, the university is now designing a third project for a new library that will break ground later this year.

Controlling energy use and bills in the face of rising costs is a special challenge for Grand Valley State, which receives the lowest amount of state funding of any public educational institution in Michigan.

“Ventilation optimization provides one of the most significant energy efficiency measures a school can implement, and this project is a great success story in how to do it right,” said Robert Brierley, president and COO of Aircuity.

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