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Biological Sciences Laboratory - University of Minnesota

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The retrocommissioning of the University of Minnesota’s Biological Sciences laboratory is an outstanding example of a modest efficiency investment that delivered strong financial performance.

Constructed in 1969, Biological Sciences is a dual-purpose teaching and research laboratory with eight floors, located on the University’s St. Paul campus. No significant efficiency improvements were made to the building in the years preceding the recent retrocommissioning effort, which began in June 2013 and concluded in January 2014.

The retrocommissioning of this building was a tremendous success, yielding a substantial return on the University’s investment and a 46% reduction of the building’s weather-normalised annual Energy Use Intensity (EUI). Biological Sciences is now one of the most energy efficient teaching and research laboratories on campus.


Building information

Owner: University of Minnesota

Location: Falcon Heights, Minnesota

Building Type: Teaching and research laboratory

Size: 8 stories; 207,115 square feet

Year Built: 1969


Efficiency measures

Occupancy sensors in all laboratory spaces

Variable Frequency Drives (VFDs) provide 6 ACH during the day and 3 ACH at night

Two-way hot water system replaced existing three-way system

Reheat system turned off during summer months

500 LED kits installed throughout the building


Key results

Weather-normalised annual EUI decreased by 46%

Reduced steam, electricity, and chilled water use

Annual utility savings of $242,000 on an investment of only $450,000

Greater building occupant comfort


For further information and details, you can download the relevant report elaborated by the Institute for Market Transformation (ICM) here.

Lessons learnt

• Aligning building system operations with occupancy trends can yield considerable utility savings. • Decreasing the rate at which outdoor air is brought into a building can significantly reduce the amount of energy needed for heating, especially in cold climates. • For property owners in the “MUSH” market (municipalities, universities, schools, and hospitals), facilities with high energy use (measured by EUI) within portfolios can be good candidates for retrofits. • Not all retrofits are expensive or coincide with capital-intensive events (such as sale, refinance, renovation, or repositioning), and this is particularly true of retrofit measures tied to retrocommissioning. The University’s Energy Management Group is encouraged by the project’s outcomes and seeks to apply what was learned with Biological Sciences to other campus buildings. This could entail both revisiting buildings that have already been retrocommissioned and exploring new retrocommissioning opportunities.

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Start date - End date

poniedziałek, 3 Czerwiec, 2013 do piątek, 31 Styczeń, 2014