In 2015-16, the Facilities Department conducted a benchmarking analysis of campus buildings which identified about fifty energy intensive buildings or “energy hogs”. Representing only 35 percent of the university’s grounds, these facilities collectively account for approximately 70 percent of the utility costs associated with the operation of the main Blacksburg campus.

Following this study, a comprehensive Five-Year Energy Action Plan was developed to guide the operations of the university to achieve significant reduction in energy costs through the implementation of various policies, initiatives, and energy-retrofit projects. The program concentrates on ten “energy hog” buildings per phase, with a primary focus of completing them all in five years. More information regarding on-going energy projects as part of this plan is available.

Under this plan, it is estimated the university can achieve an energy cost savings of approximately $4.5 million in the five years. The Facilities Department conducts annual reviews of the program and incorporates necessary changes into the scope to improve the performance of the program.

This plan supports the Virginia Tech Climate Action Commitment and Sustainability Plan.  

For more information about the Five-Year Energy Action Plan, contact the Office of Energy Management at 540-231-6348.

Five-Year Energy Action Plan outline

Phase I
(2015-16)
  • Convert the North Chiller Plant to Variable Primary Flow
  • Install chilled water meters in all buildings connected to the North Chiller Plant
  • Purchase and install an Energy Management and Continuous>Commissioning Tool (EMCCSP)
  • Implement a Campus Electric Demand Management Program
  • Conduct energy audits on 10 energy intensive buildings
Phase II
(2016-17)
  • Connect ten energy intensive buildings to the EMCCSP
  • Retro-commission ten energy intensive buildings
  • Conduct energy audits for ten energy intensive buildings
  • Install steam meters in campus buildings
  • Implement energy retrofit projects based on previous year's audits
Phase III
(2017-18)
  • Connect ten energy intensive buildings to the EMCCSP
  • Retro-commission ten energy intensive buildings
  • Conduct energy audits for ten energy intensive buildings
  • Install steam meters in campus buildings
  • Implement energy retrofit projects based on previous year's audits
Phase IV
(2018-19)
  • Connect ten energy intensive buildings to the EMCCSP
  • Retro-commission ten energy intensive buildings
  • Conduct energy audits for ten energy intensive buildings
  • Install steam meters in campus buildings
  • Implement energy retrofit projects based on previous year's audits
Phase V
(2019-20)
  • Connect ten energy intensive buildings to the EMCCSP
  • Retro-commission ten energy intensive buildings
  • Conduct energy audits for ten energy intensive buildings
  • Install steam meters in campus buildings
  • Implement energy retrofit projects based on previous year's audits

Progress

Phase I (2015-16)

In 2015-16, Phase I of the Energy Action Plan was successfully completed. During this phase, several programs were implemented. Points below summarize the results of the various programs completed during the first phase of the Energy Action Plan.

Conversion of the chilled water piping system at the North Chiller Plant finished in early May 2016. The new pumping system allows for reduced plant load during off season which results in reduced wear and tear of mechanical systems and significant electrical energy savings.

Installation of chilled water meters for all buildings connected to the North Chiller Plant was completed in early April of 2016. This improvement gives Facilities the ability to monitor energy consumption in the buildings in real-time, which helps to evaluate the performance of buildings and detect abnormal chilled water usage patterns.

Installation of steam meters for various buildings connected to the Power Plant is currently underway. Similar to chilled water meters, deployment of communicating steam meters in the buildings enables real-time energy

For a cost of $112,170, more than 32 energy audits have been completed during the first phase of the Energy Action Plan within the identified 10 “energy hog” buildings. This included audits of lighting systems, mechanical systems, pipe insulation, fume hood exhaust systems, and building envelope. Energy saving opportunities in excess of $1,459,000 per year have been identified with an estimated implementation cost of about $5,206,000 (3.6 years of payback).

Multiple surveys were conducted to assess the potential for generating additional energy savings from retro-commissioning and recommissioning activities. All “energy hog” buildings were audited for space temperature control, idle unit operation, building automation, and controls. The results identified approximately $160,300 in additional energy cost savings per year with required investment of $347,518 resulting in a 2.2 years of payback.

Facilities purchased “ICONICS” Energy Data Handling and Analytics software and is currently working on deploying the platform and connecting an initial set of 10 energy hog buildings. This is estimated to result in direct energy savings of approximately $65,000 per year in addition to providing critical cost control feedback. At an initial cost of $135,469 the payback period is about 2.3 years.

To summarize, for a combined cost of $2,526,229 invested during the first phase of the Energy Action Plan, Facilities anticipates the annual energy cost savings of over $455,000 per year with a 5.5-year payback. In addition to this, Phase I of the Energy Action Plan has identified a large number of potential energy saving opportunities which will provide additional cost savings if implemented in the consecutive phases of the plan.