UNC’s Morrison Residence Hall has won the first-ever National Building Competition, sponsored by The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program.
The competition, launched in late April, challenged teams from 14 buildings across the country to measure their energy use and work off the waste with help from EPA’s Energy Star program. The results were announced this week.
The Carolina team, the Watt-Busters, reduced energy use at Morrison by 36 percent in just one year, saved more than $250,000 on energy bills and reduced greenhouse gas emissions equal to the electricity use of nearly 90 homes for a year.
Energy use was cut through a combination of energy efficiency strategies, including improved operations and maintenance as well as outreach to Morrison residents. Improvements to the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system — optimizing Morrison’s solar-heating water system and lighting improvements — helped increase the building’s energy efficiency and maximize savings.
A computer touch-screen monitor in the lobby helped Morrison residents and the energy team at UNC keep track of energy consumption. Competitions among floors in the dorm to see who could save the most energy encouraged students to turn off lights and computers, and friendly reminders were posted in elevators, bathrooms and common areas.
“We are honored to win EPA’s first National Building Competition,” said Chancellor Holden Thorp ’86. “Carolina is a recognized national leader in sustainability and energy and carbon reduction. At UNC, sustainability is not just an academic topic. It’s part of our culture. It’s reflected in everything from our construction program to how we conduct business every day.”
In the past year, UNC has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent, and the UNC Energy Conservation Measure project, of which Morrison was part, resulted in a reduction of nearly $4 million in utility costs.
“The University of North Carolina is committed to energy efficiency, and we received strong support from EPA’s Energy Star program throughout the competition,” said Chris Martin, director of Energy Management. “We have expanded our energy efficiency initiatives to the whole campus and are excited to deliver even greater results as a community of students, staff and faculty.”
Together, the 14 competitors reduced their energy use by 44 million kilo British thermal units, saved more than $950,000 in utility bills, and reduced carbon dioxide emissions equal to the electricity use of nearly 600 homes for a year. The National Building Competition measured energy reductions from Sept. 1, 2009, through Aug. 31, 2010. The energy use of each building was monitored through EPA’s Energy Star online energy measurement and tracking tool, Portfolio Manager. The winner is the building with the greatest percentage-based reduction in weather-normalized energy use intensity. Third-party utility statements were required at the conclusion of the competition to verify the energy performance of each competitor.
Maura Beard, communications director for the commercial buildings branch of EPA’s Energy Star program, said, “The achievements of UNC are a great example of how energy efficiency is good business and helps Americans fight climate change while saving money on their energy bills.”
The final rankings for EPA’s National Building Competition are:
1. Morrison Residence Hall at UNC (35.7 percent)
2. Sears Glen Burnie, Glen Burnie, Md. (31.7 percent)
3. JCPenney, Orange, Calif. (28.4 percent)
4. 1525 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, Va. (28 percent)
5. 522 Fifth Ave, New York (18.1 percent)
6. Solon Family Health Center, Solon, Ohio (13.9 percent)
7. Crystal River Elementary School, Carbondale, Colo. (12.2 percent)
8. Tucker Residence Hall at N.C. State University, Raleigh (10.3 percent)
9. Courtyard by Marriott San Diego Downtown, San Diego (8.6 percent)
10. Maplewood Mall, Maplewood, Minn. (6.7 percent)
11. Memorial Arts Building at Woodruff Arts Center, Atlanta (5.7 percent)
12. Van Holten Primary School, Bridgewater, N.J. (5.3 percent)
13. Sheraton Austin Hotel, Austin, Texas (1.9 percent)
14. Virginia Beach Convention Center, Virginia Beach, Va. (1.5 percent)
Energy use in commercial buildings accounts for nearly 20 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions at a cost of more than $100 billion per year. On average, 30 percent of the energy used in commercial buildings is wasted.
Carolina is a recognized national leader in sustainability and energy and carbon reduction. UNC has committed to becoming carbon-neutral by 2050 and to stop using coal on campus by May 2020.