$49,000+ in 2016-17 Holiday Energy Savings!

savings over break

This year’s shutdown effort resulted in significant energy savings across many buildings. 

Every year, three long administrative holidays – Thanksgiving, Winter and New Year – leave the campus pretty empty. Once the campus clears out, Facilities Management’s Energy Conservation Office (ECO) uses the opportunity to shut off heating systems.

ECO Energy Project Engineer, Sam Cole, puts it this way,

“You wouldn’t leave your home’s heating or cooling systems on while you go on vacation. It would continue to run as scheduled and be an utter energy waste.”

The same would happen on campus as our building’s heating and cooling systems would keep conditioning air for hundreds of empty offices and classrooms.

ECO addresses this energy waste by leveraging the campus’s complex digital building control system to implement new holiday schedules and temperature setpoints for building heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. The result is more HVAC systems are given a holiday too, and room temperatures are allowed to drift. These holiday savings and setbacks only affect administrative and classroom spaces and exclude laboratory and animal spaces.

The Results Are In

This year’s holiday savings effort resulted in significant energy savings across many buildings. The end results of this coordinated holiday savings effort were impressive:




total savings



How much energy is that?

In terms of building energy, we thought of a few helpful comparisons. The amount of energy saved is about equal to:




How did we measure the savings?

The process of accurately measuring energy savings is an evolving practice in the energy industry. Our team followed industry standard methods and guidelines (IPMVP option C, standard R^2 and CvRMSE limits) and adapted them to a larger scale for our campus. The process for quantifying electricity savings can be summarized in the following steps:

  • Create a building energy model for any building with adequate utility data for heating energy and electricity using Universal Translator 3 ©, and only use models with sufficient accuracy metrics (R^2 and CvRMSE).

  • Use models to calculate daily savings by comparing actual energy use to predicted energy use during the holiday period.

  • Extrapolate the daily calculated savings to all shut down buildings, based on total building area.

  • Create a campus-level energy model for electricity, and calculate campus-level energy savings based on the difference between actual energy use and predicted energy use.

  • Compare the extrapolated and campus-level results to ensure result accuracy.

The process for quantifying steam savings was more straightforward, and consisted of only using the campus-level model in Step 4 to quantify total campus savings.

Future Directions

This has been a successful season of energy savings, but there is great potential to help the future success of this tradition grow! There are two main ways this can occur:

  • Involving more buildings in the shutdown

  • Shut buildings down during other administrative holidays

Want to be a part of the shutdown?

Our team is diligently working on the tasks above, but we need your help too! We shut down less than a quarter of the core campus’ total building area this last winter. We also only shut down for a quarter of our administrative holidays (think Labor Day, Memorial Day).

By requesting for your space to be shut down during times you know you won’t be in (even on the weekends), we can be even more successful. These requests can be made to your building or space manager, or to the Facilities Management Customer Support Center.