A New Construction Energy Efficient Lab Building: Funding The Project & Performance After Occupancy

Heidi Dugan, Konvekta USA
Tom McGee, University of Denver

The University of Denver Daniel Felix Ritchie School of Engineering & Computer Science was planned and designed to incorporate environmentally responsible, energy efficiency system into the building. The University is committed to seeking carbon neutrality by the year 2050 through conservation, reduced consumption, and pursuing appropriate and responsible alternative energy sources. To achieve this goal, the University is working toward a 24% carbon reduction by the year 2020.

The sustainable & energy efficiency elements include:

  • High Performance Energy Recovery System
  • Adiabatic Cooling of Building Exhaust Air
  • High Efficiency Boilers
  • Corridor Lighting Power Density Reductions
  • (2) 250 Ton Smardt Magnetic Bearing Chillers
  • Addition of Fan Coils to Reduce Make-up Air Flow Requirements
  • Fume Hood Exhaust Static Pressure Reset
  • Lab Occupancy Sensors to Reduce Lab Air Changes/hour
  • Lighting and Envelop Upgrades
  • Low Pressure Design

Sustainable and energy efficiency elements add first cost to a project and funding is always a challenge. The University received rebates from the local utility provider based on the bundle of efficiency measures incorporated in the building design. Funding was also provided from a campus utility reserve fund which is a revolving energy fund that allows reinvestment of efficiency savings.

The building was occupied in August 2016. System monitoring provides performance summaries of the energy efficiency elements.

  • The annual heating costs with the enhanced heat recovery and high efficiency boilers was reduced by over 60%, going from $63,000 at 50% design to $23,000 at final occupancy.
  • The annual cooling costs with the enhanced heat rejection including adiabatic cooling of the exhaust, and high efficiency magnetic bearing chillers was reduced by over 85%, going from $46,000 at 50% design to $6,000 at final occupancy.
  • Low pressure air distribution design and static pressure reset of the lab exhaust fans resulted in a reduction of annual cost to operate fans by approx. 35%, going from $91,000 at 50% design to $59,000 at final occupancy.
  • Annual savings will be secured in future years through continuous commissioning and by integrating equipment dashboards into the BAS operating screens.

Learning Objectives

  • What elements can be incorporated into a building to enhance sustainability
  • How to finance a project with energy efficient equipment that increases first cost
  • How to effectively measure actual performance after occupancy
  • How to secure continuous pay-back on energy efficient equipment


Heidi Dugan is VP of Sales & Marketing for Konvekta USA. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Engineering from the Rochester Institute of Technology and has also studied at Harvard Business School and the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University. She has worked in the environmental technology field for more than 25 years with an emphasis in green technologies.

Tom McGee is the Energy Engineer at the University of Denver. In addition to managing the utilities portfolio and energy efficiency programs, he is also responsible for all aspects of the HVAC and building automation infrastructure, including maintenance, repair and upgrade requirements. He has over 30 years of experience in the HVAC industry. Tom holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Southern Illinois University.


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