Energy Conservation

UCLA’s long term interest in energy conservation has broadened and deepened over the past several years. Using energy efficiently has always been important both to reduce expenses and to conserve environmental resources. Extremely high prices that have not significantly reduced since they skyrocketed in the energy crisis of 2000-2001 continue to drive the campus to conserve. The more recent public concern with global warming has added further emphasis to enhance an already strong conservation program. UCLA, along with the other UC campuses, will work to reduce the year 2014 carbon dioxide emissions to under those of the year 2000. By the year 2020, the campus is committed to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions to under those of the year 1990. UCLA anticipate achieving the emission reduction targets for 2014 and 2020 during 2012.

The combination of the current economic situation and the need to reduce the university's carbon foot print leads Facilities Management to carefully adhere to the Energy Conservation Task Force's recommendations to keep indoor temperature comfort range of 68°F in winter and 76°F in summer. In addition Facilities Management has a number of programs underway to reduce energy consumption on campus while maintaining research and comfort conditions.

Current Initiatives

  • HVAC Modernization Program 
  • LEED Certification 
  • Advanced Lighting Sensor Project 
  • Winter Break & Summer Sundays 
  • Thermal Energy Storage 
  • Recycled Water 
  • Building Control Upgrades 
  • Chilled Water Distribution System 
  • Lighting Retrofit Program 
  • Building Heat System Management

HVAC Modernization Program

Over the next four years, UCLA will be seeking to convert its 30 to 50 year old HVAC systems, in 25 buildings (involving 185 sub subsystems), to the latest technology in air distribution systems and control equipment to improve energy efficiency. The project will cost in excess of 16 million dollars, and will reduce UCLA’s carbon footprint by approximately 17,000 tons of CO2 per year and will simultaneously save $4.2 million in annual expenses. The HVAC retrofit involves converting 185 single, constant volume, double-duct, supply fan systems to the more modern variable air volume fan systems equipped with advanced controls and state-of-the-art sensors. Based on actual results from a pilot study, this project is expected to reduce the energy consumption of the HVAC subsystems by one half. Since HVAC systems account for about 50% of a buildings total energy usage, each building receiving the retrofit should reduce energy usage by 25%. Although, many more programs of this nature are required to achieve all the goals outlined in the UC Policy on Sustainable Practices, this HVAC retrofit project provides the greatest progress toward the goals of any single project currently considered by UCLA.

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LEED Certification

On July 2003, the Regents expressed their support for a Presidential policy to promote, “the principles of energy efficiency and sustainability on the planning, financing, design, construction, renewal, maintenance, operation… to the fullest extent possible, consistent with budgetary constraints and regulatory and programmatic requirements.” As part of that policy, the Regents called for all buildings and major retrofits starting in FY 2004-05 and after to meet the equivalent of the US Green Buildings Council LEED rating system "certified level.” Soon thereafter, La Kretz Hall became UCLA’s first building to receive a New Construction (NC) LEED rating of Silver. Since that time, several new buildings are in process to receive certification. Rieber Hall will be the campus first building to receive a certification in the Commercial Interiors (CI) program, while Public Affairs is the first Campus building to obtain Silver certification under the Existing Buildings (EB) process. The policy also called for a 20% system-wide use of green power (energy generated from renewable or waste sources) by 2010 in addition to increased campus-based renewable energy production (something that UCLA already excels at with the use of refuse-derived gas as fuel in the cogeneration facility). UCLA will continue to assume a leadership role with program as new buildings and retrofit projects are developed.

Advanced Lighting Sensor Project

In late 2007, Facilities Management began a scoping study to install advanced technology lighting throughout the campus. An initial list composed of 25 state funded buildings was identified to receive a combination of occupancy sensors, day lighting controls and bi-level stairwell lights. Occupancy sensors work by turning on the lights when the motion or sound of an individual(s) entering the room. “Smart” sensors utilize a microchip to learn the occupancy patterns of the space and “anticipate” usage by staying lit to avoid nuisance shut-offs and repeated restarts that ultimately reduce the life of the bulbs. Installation of these occupancy sensors will mostly occur in offices, break rooms, copy rooms and bathrooms. In addition to the occupancy sensors, Facilities Management will be installing bi-level stairwell sensors in selected buildings. Bi-level stairwell lighting utilizes an occupancy sensor in combination with a programmable ballast to reduce light output when occupants are not present in the stairwells. Similar to an occupancy sensor, when motion or sound is detected the fixture automatically increases light output before the occupant enters the stairwell. Currently, the Campus has installed this technology in two locations on campus, Bunche Hall and the Facilities Management building. Daylighting controls will be employed in targeted areas that have a large amount of natural light entering the space. Targeted areas typically include, but will not limited to, corridors along the edge of the building, offices with window views, building entrances and areas with open roofs. By taking advantage of natural light, supplemental light, such as fluorescent lighting, can be reduced and therefore save energy while at the same time maintaining required light levels. 

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Thermal Energy Storage Tank

The Thermal Energy Storage (TES) system has been providing the campus with roughly $600,000 in annual savings since it was placed in operation in May 2003. The main feature of the system is a 5,000,000 gallon water tank that serves as the foundation for LaKretz Hall which is the campus's first U.S. Green Buildings Council LEED Silver certified building and the home of UCLA's Institute of the Environment. The TES system allows the campus to make and store excess chilled water at night when energy prices are low and then use the stored cooling to air condition the campus during the day when energy prices are higher.

Operation of the TES system and the campus air conditioning system has also been enhanced by construction of a new air conditioning water chiller facility near Boelter Hall and the California Nano Science Institute (CNSI). Once the location of an older and less inefficient chilled water facility using CFC refrigerants, the new facility has 25% larger capacity, much more energy efficient machines and does not use CFCs. In fact, the main air conditioning system that serves nearly the entire campus is now free of CFCs. In addition to adding sorely needed capacity to the campus air conditioning system, the new chilled water facility also increases the efficiency and capacity of the TES, contributing further energy savings. The new system has been in full operation since July of 2006.

UCLA is enhancing the TES system by installing variable speed drive controls for the TES pumps which will make the TES system even more energy efficient.

Recycled Water

The campus has also found savings recovering and reusing clean water that would have otherwise been lost. Condensate from air conditioning systems, seal water from vacuum pumps and other laboratory equipment, and water from other non-contaminated sources has been collected and used in campus cooling towers for many years. In addition to decreasing the amount of water imported into southern California, use of recovered water reduces the campus water expense by nearly $100,000 annually. The recovered water program has recently been expanded to incorporate capturing the water being removed from under the foundation of the new Ronald Reagan Hospital. Because the hospital foundation extends into the ground water plume, the hospital requires constant dewatering. Rather than being lost to the storm drain system, this water is now recovered and also used in the campus cooling towers, saving an additional $200,000 per year in water expenses.


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Building Controls Upgrade

A number of other energy programs and initiatives are continuing. A multi-year program is in process to replace the campus's outdated building Central Control System with state of the art digital building management controls. The system, already in place in new campus buildings and being extended in older campus buildings, allows more precise regulation of heating, ventilation and air conditioning, improving occupant comfort while reducing energy consumption. The system also collects consumption data, alarms off-normal conditions and facilitates the adjustments necessary to implement the winter closure and the summer setbacks.

Chilled Water Distribution System

The cogeneration facility central chilled water distribution system was extended to buildings in the north campus. Perloff, Royce, Campbell, Haines, Fowler, Public Policy, Bunche, Macgowan, Melnitz, Young Research Library and GSEIS, Student Activity Center (Men's Gym), Kaufman (Dance) and Broad (Dickson/Wight) are now being cooled by the central facility. The chilled water generators now serving those buildings are in stand-by condition, ready to operate if their capacity is needed. 

Lighting Retrofit Program

The campus is continuing its lighting retrofit program, replacing older fluorescent lights with more efficient lights and changing incandescent lights to compact fluorescent bulbs. Nearly all of the lights in campus buildings have been replaced with energy efficient ones in the past six years. To date, over 112,000 energy efficient bulbs and 3,600 low energy exit signs have been installed. Campus annual energy consumption has been reduced by an estimated 7.5 million kilowatt-hours as a result of the program. 

We have a limited number of occupancy sensors available for installation where they will save the most energy. Do you know of a location that is used infrequently but where the lights are frequently left on? A storeroom, a little utilized conference room, perhaps the office of someone who is not often on campus? Let us know at ConserveEnergy@facnet.ucla.edu. If it looks like a good site, we will install an occupancy sensor to turn the lights off when the room is not occupied.

Building Heating System

Most campus ventilation systems use heated water to warm building air. The heated water systems are normally kept warm and ready to be immediately used when there is call for heating. Facilities Management is changing the way these systems operate by turning them completely off when the outdoor temperature is above 70°F. In many buildings, Facilities Management is also resetting the domestic hot water temperature down to 100°F, a temperature warm enough to provide hand washing while reducing both the risk and energy use that higher water temperatures involve. The result has been an almost twenty percent (20%) reduction in summer time thermal usage.