Despite many uncertainties and rapidly evolving lifestyle changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Stony Brook University Department of Energy Management has been hard at work finding ways to reduce energy consumption across Stony Brook’s main campus. During the winter months of 2020 and 2021, Stony Brook has been able to save 6,270 MMBtu in both electrical and thermal energy.
With the onset of the pandemic, Stony Brook’s Fall 2020 semester moved from a primarily in-person setting to a virtual learning environment with online classrooms and professional staff trading their work offices for home offices. The University’s on-campus population was also largely reduced during this timeframe. As plans for these changes were drawn up, the Department of Energy Management began to consider how to further its commitment to reducing energy consumption on campus in light of the larger environmental and societal shifts that were taking place.
With building occupation levels lower than any previous year in recent memory, the Department identified an opportunity for savings through the optimization of heating systems in campus buildings, particularly during holiday weekends. During the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s holidays, optimizing the HVAC systems across 35 campus buildings resulted in a savings of 158,000 kWh in electrical energy and 2,938 MMBtu in thermal energy, specifically for those holiday weekends.
Building on the successful energy consumption reduction over these holiday weekends, the Energy Management team saw another opportunity to optimize systems during the 2021 Winter Session. Schedule changes in more than 40 campus buildings during the month of January resulted in a total electrical savings of 484,000 kWh and thermal energy savings of 1,142 MMBtu.
As the campus environment continues to pivot and evolve during the coming months, the Department of Energy Management will continue to identify opportunities for the University to reduce its economic footprint and build on the campus-wide commitment to establish practices that reduce energy consumption.