Each year, Boston’s prestigious Northeastern University welcomes students from throughout the United States and more than 130 countries worldwide. The students engage in experiential learning opportunities for professional work, research, and service with more than 2,900 partner organizations. The university’s faculty pursues interdisciplinary research that turns discoveries into practical solutions, with a focus on global challenges in health, security, and sustainability.
The university’s research in the realm of sustainability ranges from developing new fuel-cell technology and plant-based alternative energies to advancing “green” building methods and making urban coastal areas more resilient to natural and man-made threats. Aligning with this focus, is the university’s commitment to energy efficiency in its daily operations. True to form, Northeastern has undertaken more than 60 efficiency projects (most involving energy-efficient lighting) during the past three years alone. These initiatives total an annual energy savings of nearly 5.2 million kWh, and annual cost savings reaching more than $1 million.
The recent multi-faceted project at the university’s Egan Research Center exemplifies Northeastern’s creativity in the ways it incorporates energy efficiency to benefit both the needs of its students and staff and the university’s bottom line. The project design incorporated occupancy sensors and electronic air-flow sensors to reduce laboratory air flow during unoccupied times and increasing air flow to ensure the safety of researchers during occupied times. The reductions had a cascade effect on the buildings’ energy consumption profile. As airflow was reduced, reductions in chiller load, fan motor load, pre-heat, re-heat, and cooling tower water soon followed. The results have exceeded expectations—so much so that Eversource is sharing them with its other biotech and university customers to promote similar projects.
Northeastern is justifiably proud of its efficiency culture, which extends throughout its campuses. A website has been created so faculty, staff, and students alike can share in the university’s efforts. Also, the university’s Energy Group speaks regularly in classes at the College of Engineering and the College of Science, inspiring students who will likely stand at the forefront of tomorrow’s efficiency needs and solutions.
As part of its comprehensive Climate Action Plan, Northeastern is committed to significant energy efficiency improvements for new construction and major renovation projects. Multiple energy conservation measures—such as high-efficiency lighting and controls, chillers, rooftop HVAC units, variable speed drives, and electronically commutated motors (ECM) optimize energy savings for these large projects.
Three Northeastern buildings have also achieved LEED Gold certification: the George J. Kostas Center for Homeland Security, Dockser Hall, and International Village.
With all its varied efficiency projects, Northeastern counts on its partnership with Eversource for guidance in determining viable projects, and for incentive support to help subsidize costs. Eversource is also a driving force when it comes to “pilot projects” to install new technologies and gauge their effectiveness.
Innovation is part of Northeastern’s DNA, and this is evident in its wide-ranging commitment to energy efficiency. As a recognized efficiency leader among colleges and universities, Northeastern continually demonstrates creative ways to save energy in our ever-changing world.
|Annual Energy Savings (kwh/yr):||5,185,072|
|Total Savings ($):||1,036,994|
|Total Project Cost ($):||3,135,147|
|Incentive Dollars ($):||1,934,641|
|Customer Cost ($):||1,204,506|
|Simple Payback (yrs):||1.2|