Penn State is Using Automated Controls to Reduce GHG Emissions

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Penn State uses digital building automation systems to boost sustainability

Penn State News, August 11, 2015. Image credit: drocpsu

Since Penn State has 20.5 million square feet of building space at University Park campus alone, the building automation systems are a major component of the University’s overall energy reduction and conservation efforts.

The automated controls have helped Penn State reduce its electricity consumption by 20 percent and greenhouse gas emissions by 18 percent — lowering them to below 2005 levels — despite a 2 million square foot increase in building space. Building automation also will be a major player as the University aims for a 35 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 and an additional 20 percent reduction in electricity over the next 10 years.

“Unlike having only one temperature device for an entire building like we used to, today’s intelligent chip technology lets us control one thermostat or dim one light in one room,” Mulhollem said. “Reducing energy use is the bottom line of everything we do, so being able to be so specific is key.”

The system saves energy because multiple vents, chillers, coils and other pieces of equipment, each with their own digital panels, are interconnected. Water, air and lights can be adjusted to run incrementally (not just on or off), which reduces the electrical draw across the entire system.

The smart systems also know when something is wrong.

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