An energy audit of mechanical systems at five key facilities at the mountain top campus of a dynamic institution of higher learning

The original campus of Simon Fraser University (SFU) sits atop Burnaby Mountain, offering panoramic, mountain-framed views and a stunning learning and teaching environment for SFU's 33,000 students and 900 faculty members. SFU is committed to maximizing the energy efficiency of its facilities and achieving the provincial goals for greenhouse gas emissions reduction. The energy efficiency of mechanical systems (including heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) at Burnaby Campus is critical to reaching those goals as well as ensuring the long-term sustainability of its operations.

 

"The installation of the dehumidification system was a real challenge, as space was restricted and preservation of the natatorium aesthetics was of significant concern to our client. We ensured that ductwork was installed in a manner that did not obstruct exterior views through the translucent glazing while providing the benefit of reduced fogging on the natatorium single glazing. As well, we made provisions in the direct digital control system for monitoring and totalizing the heat recovery to the pool, allowing our client to verify their energy savings."

--Ken Holdren, Prism Engineering

Challenge

In 2003, on SFU's Burnaby Campus, the Applied Sciences, Shrum Biology and South Sciences buildings, along with Chancellor's Gym and the West Mall Complex, constituted 23% of the campus's area, yet accounted for over 33% of its electrical consumption. SFU had dealt extensively with Prism over the years on energy measures, including action plans, lighting upgrades, chilled water retrofits, NRCan incentive applications and training of facilities staff. When it needed mechanical auditing services to better understand and deal with the energy use at these five key campus facilities, the university again turned to Prism.

Solutions

For the purposes of the energy audit, Prism gathered information from physical on-site reviews of mechanical equipment, equipment documentation and interviews with key personnel. Based on analysis of that information, and using various methodologies, Prism was able to:

  • develop a working model of the mechanical equipment and energy-related systems in the buildings to better understand building operation and energy use
  • review and analyze energy use histories and identify a baseline from which savings could be measured
  • identify energy reduction measures and system upgrade options and provide a cost/benefit analysis for each

Results

Prism's audit of mechanical systems identified several areas for potential improvement in energy efficiency. The simple payback for the planned measures, which were associated with over $72,000 of annual cost savings, is 4.2 years. These measures included:

  • increasing space temperature in the Chancellor's Gym natatorium to reduce pool evaporation and the associated ventilation costs
  • installing two dehumidification units in the natatorium, and a glycol run-around coil system on the squash courts' ventilation system, for heat recovery
  • rescheduling the operation of the air distribution system in the Applied Sciences Building to reduce equipment operating hours
  • reducing space temperature during unoccupied periods and installing a variable speed drive for variable flow heating water to air handling unit preheat coils in the South Sciences Building
  • upgrading standard efficiency motors with premium efficiency ones where operating hours and load factors were high

The fuel savings achieved by the Chancellor's Gym energy retrofits allowed for the heating of a newly constructed 5,400-square-metre (58,000-square-foot) second gym with no increase in fuel consumption.