Doing More with Less Energy

UMass Medical School’s main Worcester campus may be a biomedical powerhouse, but it’s growing increasingly stingy when it comes to energy consumption. Data recently compiled shows that while the main campus has grown dramatically since 2005, energy usage per square foot of building has dropped. 

“By our nature, with the demands of the hospital and the research laboratories, our campus is energy intensive. So to be able to dial back our per-square-foot usage is very encouraging,” said John Baker, associate vice chancellor of facilities management at UMMS. “This shows that the university’s commitments to investing in energy efficient technology and green building design are paying off.” 

In 2005 the main Worcester campus contained 2.18 million square feet of building area. By 2013, with the addition of the Ambulatory Care Center, the Lakeside Expansion (clinical emergency department) and the Albert Sherman Center, the total of built space on campus grew to 3.34 million square feet. 

Over the same period of time, total energy used grew from 1.34 billion kilowatt hours to 1.64 billion kilowatt hours annually. On a per square-foot basis, however, energy usage dropped from 615 kilowatt hours in 2005 to just 492 in 2013 (all years referenced are fiscal, not calendar). That means while the amount of built space on campus that needs to be lit, powered, heated and cooled grew by 50 percent, the energy used per square foot dropped by 20 percent. 

Among the major factors leading to the reduction include a significant upgrade to the campus power plant, retrofitting the older buildings on campus with more energy efficient mechanical systems and replacing older lighting fixtures. Furthermore, the new buildings on campus were constructed with efficient systems and were designed to use less energy. (The ACC earned LEED Silver and theSherman Center earned LEED Gold from the U.S. Green Building Council.) 

“Taking on the bigger retrofitting projects and committing to greener design have helped tremendously,” said Melissa Lucas, sustainability and energy manager at UMMS. “The other big variable in energy usage is the individual actions of our community members. Choices matter, and the more we can remember to turn off lights, turn off equipment and computers when they’re not needed, the more progress we will make.”