LEXINGTON, Ky. — When the University of Kentucky 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 percent compared to a typical laboratory building its size. This data is not estimated, but represents actual savings based on utility bills. Accomplishing this reduction took a team commitment, from design to operations. Much of the conservation took place after the building's completion, by operating and maintaining the building to achieve savings targets.
Last year, the utility costs of the original CAER building totalled $258,694 (or $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 toward research.
Part of the energy reduction is accomplished by energy-saving features throughout the building, including an exterior and roof with twice the normal level of insulation. Office windows receive south-facing light and contain a nanogel material that diffuses sunlight and provides the same thermal resistance as a brick wall. Other features include geothermal heating and cooling, occupancy sensors that turn lights off 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 there are opportunities to reduce energy consumption even further.