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Buildings & Energy

by Mog,Justin M last modified Dec 16, 2014 02:55 PM

UofL is committed to building smarter and conserving energy and water on campus.

In growing and improving our campus facilities, UofL is working to minimize environmental impacts and maximize opportunities for efficiency. Much of this effort is guided by the Office of University Planning, Design and Construction (UPDC). See a summary of UPDC sustainability efforts.

Unitas Building Dashboard

Building Dashboards Building Dashboard Icon

Discover UofL's Model Green Rooms!Model Green Office - Urban Studies Institute Room 100

In 2012, UofL installed real-time energy-monitoring and display technology in four residence halls. These online Building Dashboards allow residents to get a handle on their energy usage and to get real-time feedback about conservation efforts within the residence halls!

Check out these new online portals, make a personal commitment to reduce, and gain a better understanding of your energy use:

Our Building Dashboards help UofL residents gauge progress during our annual energy conservation competition and helped UofL finish in the top ten energy reducers in the spring 2012 Campus Conservation Nationals!

UofL's new LEED Gold Student Recreation Center opened in October 2013, featuring geothermal heating and cooling, solar hot water, rainwater capture & storage for irrigation, and a Siemens building dashboard available in the lobby on an interactive touch-screen that displays the performance of these systems.

Vending Lights Off at UofL
In 2012, UofL began shutting off lighting in campus vending machines to save energy. New snack vending machines were installed in 2013 with motion-sensor LED lighting.

Energy & Water Efficiency

  • UofL's annual utility bill (electric, gas, water and sewer) is over $19.5 million. In recent years, we've spent nearly $1 million every month of the year on energy ($11.7 million for electricity and gas in 2011). There are tremendous cost savings and environmental benefits to be gained from using energy and water more efficiently on campus.
  • You can help us identify opportunities to save! If you notice problems in UofL buildings such as leaky plumbing fixtures, rooms that are excessively heated or air conditioned, windows that won't shut, lights which won't shut off, etc. take a moment to report the problem online here or call it in:
    Belknap Campus: (502) 852-6241
    Health Sciences Center: (502) 852-5695
    Shelby Campus: (502) 852-5601
  • UofL has made massive investments to retrofit its existing facilities in order to increase the efficiency of our operations, reduce costs, consume less energy and water, and produce less pollution as a result. 
  • This $46.2 million project, involving 88 buildings (6.2 million square feet) on all three UofL campuses will directly save the university $4.4 million every year and reduce our annual carbon dioxide emissions alone by over 46,000 tons (the equivalent of removing 7,690 cars from the road).
  • With these improvements, UofL expects to reduce its utility bill by about $12,086 per day!
  • These efforts have already produced documented results. In FY 2011-12, Belknap Campus reduced fuel use 48%, electricity use 27%, and water use 31%. Efficiency-minded campus users helped us exceed our engineers' expectations! They had predicted fuel use to decline nearly 40% and electricity use to drop at least 20% annually. Read more.
Energy Efficiency Retrofit Examples
Some examples of efficient lighting and insulation jackets installed at UofL.
Low-flow ShowerheadsLow-flow shower head replacements were installed throughout Belknap campus in 2010.
  • Examples of efficiency retrofits include:
  1. Efficient lighting: Installed 117,483 fluorescent lamps, 41,714 ballasts, and 1,729 exterior induction lamps. Reduce lighting energy consumption by 14% for an annual savings of over $915,000.
  2. Insulated steam valve jackets: 1,152 installed. Reduce heat loss at the valve by 90%. Saves over $327,000/year.
  3. Occupancy sensors for lighting: Installed 2,011 occupancy sensors to automatically shut off lights in vacant rooms. Reduces lighting energy consumption by 20-40%, saving over $97,000/year.
  4. Low-flow shower heads: 616 standard shower heads were replaced with efficient 2.0 gallon/minute heads. Reduces water use by an average of 11%, saving over $34,000/year.
  5. Low-flow faucet aerators: Installed 20,426 pressure independent aerators. Reduces water consumption at sinks by an average of 58% for an annual savings of over $159,000.
  6. Efficient motors: Replaced 259 motors with new models that use an average of 5% less energy for an annual savings of over $35,000.
  7. Energy efficient belts for motors: Replaced 213 standard V-style belts with non-slipping synchronous belts with variable frequency drives. Cuts energy use by an average of 8% for a savings of over $46,000/year.

LEED Buildings

All new construction and major renovation projects at UofL are designed and built in accordance with Kentucky's High Performance Building Standards, using the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System™ as a guide or for certification, depending on the scale of the project. LEED standards not only encourage efficiency, but a wide range of practices which reduce the total environmental impact of buildings during construction and occupancy. UofL now has LEED Gold certified buildings on all three of our campuses!

UofL's ever-growing list of LEED projects includes the following. Click to learn more about the wide variety of green features we've incorporated into these buildings:

  1. Clinical & Translational Research Building, HSC (LEED Gold) - 2010, new construction, $136.3 million (factsheet)
  2. Duthie Center for Engineering, Belknap (LEED Gold) - 2010, renovation, $5.8 million (photos. factsheet)
  3. Center for Predictive Medicine, Shelby (LEED Gold) - 2011, new construction, $35.2 million
  4. School of Dentistry, HSC (LEED Silver) - 2012, renovation & addition, $44.9 million (factsheet)
  5. School of Medicine (55B) MRI Imaging Suite, HSC (LEED Silver) - 2012, commercial interior renovation, $5.6 million (factsheet)
  6. School of Business Equine Addition, Belknap (LEED Silver) - 2012, new construction, $3.4 million
  7. Student Recreation Center, Belknap (LEED Gold) - 2013, new construction, $37.5 million
  8. The Nucleus, HSC (LEED Silver) - 2013, new construction, 197,000 sq ft, $37.5 million (UofL Foundation)

Project currently in design or construction targeted for LEED certification:

  1. Lynn Soccer Stadium, Belknap (seeking LEED Silver) - Opening 8/29/14, new construction, $18.5 million
  2. Student Activities Center east wing renovation, Belknap (seeking LEED Silver) - renovation, $9.4 million
  3. Center for Predictive Medicine Addition, Shelby (seeking LEED certification) - new construction, $9.9 million

Renewable Energy

University of Louisville is on its way to carbon neutrality (Louisville Alternative Energy Examiner, January 31, 2012)
  • As we transition toward climate neutrality by 2050, UofL has made a bold commitment to renewable energy. Our immediate goal is to source at least 20% of our power from renewable energy sources by 2020. UofL is seriously exploring options including solar, biomass, geothermal, and low-impact hydropower projects. Some of these efforts are tied to educational and research objectives at UofL. More details are available in UofL's Climate Action Plan.
  • Student Rec Center Roof with Solar Water Heaters Student Rec Center Solar Water Heaters
  • At the moment, UofL, like most utility customers in Kentucky, still relies largely on fossil fuel-generated power purchased from the grid. We do not currently generate a significant percentage of our electricity on campus, but we are moving in that direction with a commitment to renewable energy that has already manifest itself in a number of pilot projects.
Green Scene: Students make it happen with low-cost solar Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Club members Josh Wilcox, Ezra Clark, Sam Ellis, Alejandro Martinez, Jason Absher and Harry Russell install solar panels for Garden Commons greenhouse.
  • In spring 2014, UofL installed a 16-panel, 165 MMBtu solar pool heating system on the roof of the Wright Natatorium.
  • UofL's latest project featuring renewable energy opened in October 2013. The new Student Recreation Center on 4th Street features not only a 134 MMBtu solar hot water system, but 128,000 square feet of space heated and cooled by the University's first geothermal system. The geothermal heat pipe is a closed-loop vertical well system with a total of 180 wells 400 feet deep. This 4960 MMBtu system provides ample reserve capacity and is expected to generate about 22% annual energy cost savings compared to a conventional system. It is also considerably simpler and cheaper to maintain. Read more.
  • In October 2013, UofL students took part in the U.S. Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon competition, finishing first in the Affordability and Power categories! Read more about the experience. See the full results here. UofL students, faculty and staff collaborated with others from Ball State University and the University of Kentucky as "Team Kentuckiana" to design and build a fully solar-powered, modular home called "The Phoenix House." The project was designed to aid in disaster recovery and provide a model of green living! The home will be reinstalled on the UofL campus for further research and educational purposes. For more information, contact the team's faculty mentor, Dr. Mark McGinley (502-852-4068). To contribute, contact Jason Diffenderfer at 502-852-1248.
  • The roof of UofL's LEED Gold certified Center for Predictive Medicine on the Shelby campus houses a 50.4 kilowatt solar photovoltaic array, one of the largest in Kentucky, with 252 panels (see photo above).
  • In May 2012, students in UofL's Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Club, designed, constructed and installed low-cost 120-watt solar panels at the Garden Commons to power the ventilation system for the new greenhouse. Read more about the project.
  • Sackett Hall Solar Array (PV+HotWater)Solar Heat Pipe Wall at Shelby Campus
  • The computer controlled dual-axis tracking solar array on Sackett Hall at the J.B. Speed School of Engineering produces both electricity (2 kW) and hot water for the building. It is the only such tracking array in Kentucky, and is intended for research, development and education, while supplying a portion of the building's electricity and hot water. Because it is able to track the sun precisely throughout the day and across the seasons, it is 30% more efficient than fixed solar panels. The two solar thermal collectors in the center of the array provide nearly 100% of the building's hot water in the summer, and ten photovoltaic panels feed enough electricity into the grid to power the building's computer laboratory. Check out how much energy the system is capturing right now!
  • Constructing Solar Test Building (Aug 2011)
  • We are investigating renewable energy options to passively heat & cool UofL buildings. At Burhans Hall on our Shelby campus, in collaboration with the Department of Energy and the Kentucky Renewable Energy Consortium, UofL's Renewable Energy Applications Laboratory (REAL) installed an experimental solar heat pipe wall for indoor climate control that may prove to be twice as efficient as other solar systems in places such as Louisville with moderate sun and cold winters. In 2011, the system was moved to a new solar test room constructed at the Speed School of Engineering behind Ernst Hall for further experimentation and monitoring. This is the only such device of its kind in the world and its active solar design is more efficient than most passive systems.
  • Solar Pilot ProjectOn the roof of Burhans Hall on Shelby Campus, UofL installed a solar water heating system in 2009 with support from the Kentucky Institute for the Environment and Sustainable Development (KIESD). The system uses the heat of the sun year-round to warm a 120 gallon water tank and can generate up to 30,000 BTUs of heat. These two panels have reduced natural gas usage for water heating at Burhans Hall by as much as 50%.
UofL Biodiesel Program
  • Since 2009, Chemical Engineering faculty and students have been involved in the conversion of waste vegetable oil from UofL Dining services into biodiesel used to fuel our campus shuttle. We began to scale-up this effort in 2011, when UofL Dining began supplying used cooking oil for local conversion into biodiesel. The project began through a partnership with the Louisville Biodiesel Cooperative and now Kelley Green Biofuel of Goshen, KY (5100 Greenhaven Lane), a community-scale, ASTM-certified, National Biodiesel Board registered biodiesel producer with an annual capacity of 75,000 gallons, located just 30 miles from campus. Check out the details of the project here. In May 2014, UofL's Grounds crew began a new trial using this locally-produced biodiesel to power their diesel machinery and trucks in a B20 blend.
  • In 2009, UofL commissioned consultants from Cannon Design to produce a report on the practical and economic feasibility of renewable energy options for UofL, including solar, wind, geothermal, hydropower, biomass, and landfill gas. Download a copy of the report here.
  • Learn more about some of our renewable energy efforts here.

Space Heaters

In 2013, UofL launched a new Space Heater Policy, designed to discourage the use of inefficient personal space heaters in rooms on campus where central heating and air conditioning can be adjusted to fix the problem.
  • Space heaters are expensive energy hogs and can pose serious fire and electrical hazards. UofL strongly discourages their use in offices and bans their use in residence halls, Greek housing, or any sleeping quareters.
  • The University shall strive to maintain room temperatures as follows:
      During Heating Season:
         Occupied Hours 66-72 Degrees F.
         Unoccupied Hours 55-65 Degrees F.
      During Cooling Season:
         Occupied Hours 74-78 Degrees F.
         Unoccupied Hours 78-85 Degrees F.
  • If your room is cold, please contact Work Control to request a room temperature audit and adjustment. Either fill out a request online here, or call 852-6241 (Belknap); 852-5695 (HSC); or 852-5601 (Shelby).
  • Temporary use of an approved space heater may be allowed only if sub-66 F temperatures persist following a Physical Plant audit and adjustment.
  • Preferred heaters use radiant heat (rather than resistant heaters whose coils may exceed 1000 degrees F), and are thermostatically-controlled. Radiant heaters are more energy efficient because they are designed to radiate direct heat to the users’ body.
  • If using university funds to purchase a space heater, University policy requires that such purchase is made through the UofL Stockroom. The purchase of space heaters through retail establishments using University funds is not authorized nor will those charges be approved for reimbursement. Using a University credit card for the purchase of space heaters is also in violation of University policy since these items are available through the UofL Stockroom (333 E. Brandeis Street, 852-6253).
  • After November 1, 2013 space heaters not approved by the University Fire Marshal must be removed.
  • Read the full UofL Space Heater Policy here.

Green Roofs

  • Vegetated roofs are not only beautiful, but they help moderate temperatures to reduce the urban heat island effect and building energy demands for cooling and heating, while reducing storm water runoff, generating oxygen, and providing wildlife habitat in the urban landscape. They can also be designed as green spaces for urban dwellers looking to escape the concrete jungle. 
  • The University of Louisville has begun installing green roofs to help demonstrate their many benefits, with projects at The Nucleus building at Market & Floyd Streets, the College of Business expansion, the Early Learning Center at Family Scholar House, and the Cardinal Towne affiliated student housing and retail facility.
  • In July, 2012, UofL officials gathered for a ceremonial planting of the new green roof sprouting on the first building at the new Nucleus Innovation Park-Market Street, a subsidiary of the UofL Foundation. The eight-story, 197,000-square-foot, LEED Silver building opened in May 2013 with a 6,000 sf fully reflective roof. Bernheim Forest nursery specialists were involved in advising building contractors how to design and maintain the roof, which features Kentucky native plants.
  • In June 2012, UofL dedicated a new wing at Harry Frazier Hall, the College of Business building. The wing houses the equine and entrepreneurship programs. The roof of the building is a vegetated green roof called the M. Krista Loyd Sky Garden, named for the daughter of Raymond and Eleanor Lloyd of Louisville. The garden will reduce storm water surges and is expected to trim heating and cooling costs by 25% in the two-story addition it covers.

    Besides the roof, other green features of the new wing include:
    - 97% of all occupied spaces have natural day lighting; 94% have a direct line of sight to the outside.
    - Radiant heat panels along the window wall keep the rooms evenly heated.
    - Low-E glass reduces heat buildup in the summer and reflects heat back in the winter.
    - Low VOC-emitting paint, sealant, adhesives and flooring reduce indoor air contaminants.

Green Roof and Vegetable Garden atop Early Learning Campus at Family Scholar HouseGreen Roof on College of Business Dedication 6-5-12Green Roof at Cardinal Towne

Campus Conservation Nationals

Each year since 2012, UofL has competed nationally (and locally in the Bluegrass Unplugged competition against UK, WKU, and Berea) to reduce electricity use in residence halls during the Campus Conservation Nationals. CCN is the largest nationwide electricity and water reduction competition on over 100 college and university campuses, covering thousands of buildings and hundreds of thousands of students!

From February 10 to March 2, 2014, UofL students competed to achieve the greatest possible energy reductions in their residence halls. Results are below. Click on the links to see electricity consumption patterns in each hallCampus Conservation Nationals 2014:Bluegrass Unplugged Logo

  1. Threlkeld Hall (8.7% reduction)

  2. Cardinal Towne (6.5% reduction)
  3. Kurz Hall (real-time data!) (5.8% reduction)
  4. Louisville Hall (real-time data!) (5.3% reduction)
  5. Billy Minardi Hall (4.9% reduction)
  6. Unitas Hall (real-time data!) (3.0% reduction)
  7. The Complex (West, Center & Wellness) (2.4% reduction)
  8. University Tower Apartments (UTA) (0.8% reduction)
  9. Community Park (real-time data!) (0.4% reduction)

  10. Miller Hall (0.7% INCREASE)
  11. Bettie Johnson Hall (43.1% INCREASE)
  • From Feb. 10 - Mar. 2, 2014, UofL residents were able to reduce energy consumption by 2.9% overall! Residents saved 8003 kWh of electricity, worth about $400. This equates to keeping 5.5 metric tons (12,161 pounds) of carbon dioxide pollution out of the atmosphere. That's equivalent to annual emissions from: driving 13,134 miles, switching 144 incandescent bulbs to CFLs, or half of the average home’s energy use!
  • Prizes were awarded to the UofL residence hall which reduced the most! Threlkeld Hall led the way with an 8.7% reduction, earning the Grand Prize: a Skate Party at Skate World on March 5th and a Green Renovation project chosen by the residents for their hall (thanks to a $5000 donation from Louisville's newest student housing project, The Grove)!
  • Individual Conservation Heroes were also entered in two prize raffles after pledging to conserve or by posting photos of their green efforts on Facebook. One resident earned a $400 bike shopping spree and five others earned a Dinner with Provost Willihnganz. During the competition, tables were set up in the lobby of one of the halls where residents could pledge to take action and pick up free UofL Sustainability reusable shoulder bags, t-shirts, mugs, and water bottles!
  • Residents are encouraged to make a personal commitment to reduce and keep track of your hall's progress with UofL's Building Dashboard online portal!
  • In addition to UofL, CCN 2014 involved 109 schools, 1330 buildings, and over 265,000 students & staff across North America. Together, we saved 2.2 million kWh! That's the equivalent of removing 201 homes from the grid for a year and keeping 3 million pounds of carbon dioxide pollution out of the atmosphere!

Previous Years' CCN Results:

CCN Flyer - Pull The Plug
  • In 2013, UofL joined 120 colleges & universities across North America in engaging over 300,000 student residents to help save 2,114,844 kWh of electricity! That's equivalent to keeping 2,426,060 pounds of carbon pollution out of the air; saving $178,716; and taking 187 US homes off the grid for a year.
  • Final 2013 Rankings by Residence Hall (% reduction in energy use March 23 - April 12, 2013):
    1. Bettie Johnson Hall (15%)
    2. Billy Minardi Hall (8.2%)
    3. The Complex (West, Center & Wellness Halls) (6.2%)
    4. Miller Hall (3.2%)
    5. Threlkeld Hall (2.3%)
    6. Cardinal Towne (3.1% increase)
    7. University Tower Apts (UTA) (3.3% increase)
    8. Unitas Hall (real-time data!) (5.6% increase)
    9. Louisville Hall (real-time data!) (7.2% increase)
    10.Community Park (real-time data!) (16.7% increase)
    11.Kurz Hall (real-time data!) (45.3% increase)
  • Read the story from UofL Green Scene: Students Compete to Reduce.
  • In 2012, UofL was one of 100 colleges & universities which engaged over 200,000 residents to save 1.7 gigawatt-hours of electricity! This equates to taking 151 U.S. homes 
off the grid for a year, $158,000 in savings, and 2.6 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions averted!
  • From March 26 - April 15, 2012 UofL residents were able to reduce energy consumption 11.9%, saving 38,415 kWh of electricity! This equates to $2,689 in savings, and 78,789 pounds of carbon dioxide averted!
  • Final 2012 Rankings by Residence Hall (% reduction in energy use):
    1.    University Tower Apartments (UTA) (36.4%)
    2.    Kurz Hall (real-time!) (20.5%)
    3.    Louisville Hall (real-time!) (12.2%)
    4.    Community Park (real-time!) (10.3%)
    5.    The Complex (West, Center & Wellness Halls) (8.0%)
    6.    Unitas Hall (real-time!) (4.5%)
    7.    Bettie Johnson Hall (1.2%)
    8.    Miller Hall (0.7%)
    9.    Threlkeld Hall (2.1% INCREASE)
  • As one of the top ten energy reducers in 2012, UofL earned 200 megawatt-hours of renewable energy credits (RECs) from Sterling Planet!
  • Read the story from UofL Green Scene: Wrapping your mind around reducing campus energy use.

Imagine A University...

We take inspiration from Rocky Mountain Institute Chief Scientist Amory Lovins and participants in the 2012 Appalachian Energy Summit who ask us to imagine a university that...

  • "Makes students, employees, and community members happier and healthier;
  • Where campuses are used as part of the education curriculum, and smart, climate-responsive buildings teach students about integrative design and new technologies;
  • Where facilities managers are seen not as overhead to be minimized but as profit centers to be maximized;
  • Have energy courses as part of the general education requirements;
  • Can participate in purchase power agreements with energy developers and are able to negotiate with utilities;
  • Have non-siloed departments that work together to create and implement an energy plan and strategy;
  • Have a common clean energy plan for all of the campuses in the state;
  • Have aggressive metering and measuring for each building on campus;
  • Reward students and staff for not having cars on campus;
  • Have coordinated land use and transportation planning with local municipalities;
  • Successfully train students to be the nation’s next energy leaders; and
  • Have revolving loan funds to reinvest energy savings back into the school"
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