When the UK Center for Applied Energy Research’s renewable energy laboratory building opened a year ago, it was with energy conservation in mind. A year’s worth of data shows a total energy reduction of 55% compared to a typical laboratory building its size. This is not estimated, but an actual savings based on the utility bills. This took a team commitment from design to operations. Much of the conservation took place after the completion of the building by operating and maintaining the building to achieve these savings.
To illustrate this cost savings magnitude, last year the utility costs of the original CAER building (erected in 1977) was $258,694 ($4.88 per square foot). The new building’s utility cost was $111,181 ($2.58 per square foot). This is a difference of $147,000 per year in utility savings that can be directed towards research rather than building consumption.
Part of the energy reduction is accomplished by energy-saving features throughout the building, including an exterior and roof with twice the amount of insulation normally used. Office windows receive southern-directional light and contain a nanogel material that diffuses sunlight and provides the same insulation as brick walls. Among other features are geothermal heating and cooling, occupancy sensors that turn off lights automatically when no one is there, and a ventilation system that recaptures energy.
The original engineers (CMTA Engineering Consultants) are now studying trends in the building and believe that there are opportunities to reduce energy consumption even further.