Campus-Wide Energy-Efficiency Focus Triggers Change
The change in focus and intensity related to campus-wide energy efficiency required a change in the structure of the department.
“We separated the operations side of our house to put much greater emphasis on it,” McNicol says. “We got more computer programmers in there to run the plant and the energy management system.
“Operations and maintenance used to be together. But we picked up an engineer on our staff from Monterrey, Mexico, and we added staff — two programmers to go into the energy management system first to clean it up. There were a few protocols and things that didn’t make sense. Then we started playing with the logic and building more logic into the system. We also had to make an investment in some people but not much equipment because the equipment’s all there. The control points all exist. Sometimes, it’s just getting aggressive young engineers and letting them do their jobs. Sometimes you just need that fresh idea.”
The department’s efforts to increase energy efficiency and find savings was to enable the energy management system to use all available data to create comfortable indoor environments on the campus located in West Texas, which can be one of the hottest spots in the nation.
“We’re trying to program the buildings to think smarter, meaning, ‘What is the temperature right now? What is the relative humidity?’,” McNicol says. “If the building is asking for cooling and if the air outside is cold and meets that need, turn off the pump. We’re starting to make the buildings think in those terms. There are too many control points for an operator to do it manually. We’ve gone building by building and hit our energy hogs first and put logic into them. Today’s a good example. We have low humidity and colder air. Why am I pushing chilled water around?”