Greater Than the Sum of Parts: Combining Occupant Engagement and Data Analytics to Maximize Lab Energy Efficiency

Jim Hauswirth, McKinstry
Lauren Poole, Colorado School of Mines

Buildings are never separate from their occupants, but for energy conservation we often focus on building systems and behind the scenes operations. Using building energy data, automation systems, and developing analytics to detect equipment and operational issues can provide valuable insight into how well a building is operating. However, especially in laboratories, focus on the building systems does not uncover the immense opportunities to increase sustainability practices and drive energy savings through occupant engagement and behavior change. Colorado School of Mines (Mines) is partnering with McKinstry to implement a 3-year energy-saving and occupant engagement program called powerED. Due to the high number of lab environments, and a commitment to STEM and sustainability at Mines, a primary energy-saving opportunity was identified to develop a Shut the Sash campaign for their 250 fume hoods, across 10 buildings and over 110 labs. Using community-based social marketing (CBSM) tools to engage lab occupants, combined with building analytics and operational data to ensure HVAC systems are operating efficiently, the powerED team is implementing a two-prong approach to increase campaign effectiveness and sustainability in labs. This session will present the strategic implementation and results of this lab campaign and energy efficiency program to-date and review operational and behavioral best practices.

Learning Objectives

  • Learn what metrics to measure for key performance indicators, and how to measure those points in a laboratory energy-saving program;
  • Learn why developing standard sustainability practices, regardless of impact, is critical;
  • Understand common participation barriers to lab sustainability programs, and techniques to minimize barriers while maximizing benefits; and
  • Discover key considerations and pathways to forming an effective implementation team.


Jim is a Sr. Building Energy Analyst with McKinstry. Over the last 12 years, including prior firms, he worked primarily as a Commissioning Engineer and is dedicated to supporting ongoing and retro-commissioning efforts for a variety of clients including multiple wet and dry labs for schools and universities. Jim has a particular interest in using data analytics to implement solutions which show meaningful energy savings. He has a Masters degree in Engineering from the Univ. of Colo., Boulder.

Lauren is the Sustainability Coordinator at CO School of Mines since March 2018. Previously, she served as Exec. Dir. of the Energy Efficiency Business Coalition and has worked as a sustainability consultant for organizations and for NREL as a communications specialist for their energy-efficient commercial buildings, solar, and wind research programs. She has a Masters in Sustainability and Renewable Energy from Marylhurst University in Oregon.


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