I recently attended the annual conference of the Rocky Mountain Association of APPA which was held in Colorado Springs and attended by over 250 Facilities Managers from Higher Education institutions from Mexico to Canada. The diversity of this group allows SLATERPAULL to learn what large and small colleges and universities are doing to make their campuses more sustainable and operationally efficient.
My attention focused on a number of classes dedicated to energy efficiency so that we can better plan future projects to be increasingly sustainable. As an example, a class on Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) was perfectly suited to architects developing strategies for the integration of equipment into preliminary design concepts. VRF is only used in 4% of US-based projects but over 80% in Europe, Japan and China, but has high potential for lowering first costs and simplifying maintenance requirements. Many colleges and universities have programs to reduce energy consumption but these programs often vary widely. It was very informative to learn what the University of Wyoming was doing in comparison to the University of Colorado. By listening to each institution’s methodologies, we will be better able to lead the programming process for future buildings in a direction that will lower greenhouse gas emissions and reduce long-term operating costs.
Some institutions are beginning to install “Dashboards” in their campus buildings. These TV monitors are directly connected to the building control systems and give both the occupants and maintenance personnel the knowledge they need to keep buildings operating at peak efficiency. The success of these monitors lies in providing performance incentives to occupants, instant feed-back on the success of repairs, and the ability to set ‘best-in-class’ measures that are of key interest to campus executives.