The Importance of an Integrated Strategy for Effective Energy Reduction: A Case Study of University of Mississippi's STEM Building

Patrick Duffy, Bard, Rao + Athanas Consulting Engineers
Carolyn Day, Ellenzweig

As University campuses strive to understand the path towards a net zero campus, the need to significantly reduce the energy consumption of each building becomes more and more critical. Lab buildings are some of the largest consumers of energy on campus and some of the toughest to reduce. With a large leap forward, the University of Mississippi's new 200,000sf STEM building, which houses 40 labs of various disciplines, is on track to achieve a 74% energy savings over the 2030 baseline. This session will explain how an integrated strategy from initial building planning through mechanical systems selection allowed the design team to take the highest advantage of many energy conserving measures.

With a wide number of disciplines to be located in the building, the planning stage balanced the energy use intensity level of each lab with the design intent of creating a collaborative student culture to result in a layout that was active for students while enabling highly energy efficient systems. This same design focus was used down to the individual lab level where new efficient downdraft venting designs allowed for superior student atmosphere in labs that traditionally have strong odors.

Among the mechanical systems carefully selected with the client, the building uses 36 Filtered Fume Hoods, which in turn enabled the use of heat wheels, maximizing the energy recovery on lab exhaust air. The building program also includes a small data center further taxing the energy consumption. Creative planning allowed the data center's cooling to be turned into useable re-heat air. A high efficiency regional chilled water plant, a displacement air system in the Atrium, Aircuity air monitoring systems and photo voltaic panels are among the other systems that were used for energy efficiency.

Learning Objectives

  • Understand the importance of having an all encompassing strategy and mission to achieve the highest energy efficiency possible and the need to employ that strategy from day one of the project.
  • Understand how building planning decisions effect the energy efficiency of a building. From program stacking to fume hood selection to major mechanical systems, these decisions can have a compound effect on energy use.
  • Understand ways in which to engage the client on energy related topics and decisions from the outset of the project.
  • Understand the importance carrying the strategy through all levels of details, such as chemical management, is important to the overall success of the design.


Pat Duffy is an Associate Principal at BR+A with over 13 years of experience in the field of HVAC Engineering. He has been involved in the engineering of HVAC systems for a broad range of project types, including facilities for academic, science and technology, and healthcare clients nationwide. Pat is a Registered Professional Mechanical Engineer, a LEED Accredited Professional. Pat holds a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Boston University.

Carolyn Day, Sustainability Coordinator at Ellenzweig, has 20 years of experience as an architect for projects ranging from elementary schools to research facilities. She has been a champion of sustainability for over a decade, serving on the USGBC Massachusetts Board, AIA COTE, Sustainable Design Leaders, and often serves as a BAC Studio Critic and Sustainable Design Advisor for Thesis Panels each year. A steward for education, Carolyn has presented at ABX and led training seminars for general contractors and trades regarding the incorporation of sustainable design initiatives during construction. Carolyn holds degrees in both mechanical engineering and architecture.


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