Past energy success and future campus growth make it more challenging to further reduce and ultimately eliminate the “unavoidable” greenhouse gas emissions associated with essential energy consumption.
UMBC has already implemented a vast array of energy conservation initiatives across the campus, resulting in significant energy savings. Most notably, UMBC’s electricity consumption per gross square foot (kWh/GSF) was 29% less in 2018 than in 2007. Since many big energy projects—all those with a reasonable payback—have already been implemented, the future challenge becomes identifying and implementing additional large-scale energy projects as future technological advances provide even greater efficiencies.
UMBC has already adopted LEED Silver as the design standard for the construction of new buildings and major renovation. This ensures the latest technologies are utilized to create very efficient, green buildings. However, even the most efficient buildings require energy to operate. Each square foot of building space added on campus increases the campus’ energy demand for cooling, heating, lighting, etc.
UMBC’s Master Plan includes new buildings that will add one million GSF, more than a 25 percent increase, over the next twenty years. Campus enrollment and students living on campus are also projected to have similar increases. Unmitigated, campus growth will result in a 25 percent increase in campus energy consumption and a commensurate increase in greenhouse gas emissions.
UMBC’s carbon footprint includes two energy components: electricity and stationary combustion. The 2018 breakdown of greenhouse gas emissions by source showed 54.4 percent attributed to energy (38,525 MTeCO2) with 33.5 percent from electricity (23,699 MTeCO2) and 20.9 percent from stationary combustion (14,826 MTeCO2).
Electricity is an essential power source for air conditioning, ventilation, lighting, and electrical/electronic equipment. In some campus buildings, electricity is also used for heating and domestic hot water.
Stationary Combustion refers to the onsite burning of fuel sources. For UMBC, this is primarily natural gas, which fuels boilers, heating equipment, cooking equipment, etc. UMBC also uses #2 fuel oil, but only rarely as it is for emergency/backup/temporary use, such as running emergency generators during a power outage or fueling Central Plant and Satellite Plant boilers during a natural gas interruption.
In short, the Net-Zero Energy Plan is to continually reduce energy consumption as much as reasonably possible, i.e., cost-effective and technically feasible; strategically increase the percentage of electricity coming from renewable sources to 100 percent by 2050; then lastly, offset any remaining “unavoidable” greenhouse gas emissions via carbon offsets by 2050.
UMBC’s energy strategy is to implement conservation initiatives—efficiency upgrades, operational improvements, and behavioral changes—sufficient enough to offset increases in energy demand associated with future campus growth. Doing so will maintain UMBC’s average annual energy consumption at 2019 levels, approximately 67 million kWh of electricity and 278,000 MMBtu of stationary combustion. These values will serve as estimates of UMBC’s essential energy consumption for forecasting the associated “unavoidable” greenhouse gas emissions that will require renewable energy and carbon offsets.
- To eliminate the electricity footprint, UMBC will ultimately need to get 100 percent of its electricity from renewable energy sources.
- To eliminate the stationary combustion footprint is more challenging and ultimately may require electrifying some heating processes, switching to biofuels, and/or carbon offsets.
UMBC’s goal is to have zero carbon footprint by 2050. This requires 1) Net-Zero Electricity by 2050 and 2) Net-Zero Stationary Combustion by 2050.
Reduce and ultimately eliminate carbon footprint attributed to electricity.
a) Continue and enhance ongoing energy conservation initiatives.
- Green Office Program: Rollout to more offices and departments. Implement a periodic verification and recertification.
- HVAC Equipment Scheduling: Setup/maintain HVAC equipment schedules in BAS to match the actual occupancy of each building, lecture halls, AHU zones, etc. Setup/maintain HVAC equipment schedules in BAS for campus holidays. Set vacant rooms in resident halls and vacant apartment units to unoccupied mode during winter/spring/summer breaks.
- Set Point Standards: 70o in heating mode. 76o in cooling mode. Reheat valves to remain closed until space is below the heating setpoint.
- Setback for Unoccupied Mode: AHUs off unless space gets below 60o or above 80o.
- Improved Preventive Maintenance for HVAC Equipment: Include a renewed focus on energy efficiency, such as changing filters and cleaning coils to improve fan efficiency and heat transfer, water treatment to improve pump efficiency and distribution capacity, finding/fixing leaks, and finding/fixing valves and dampers that are wasting energy. Proactive versus reactive
b) Utilize building analytics to identify energy-saving repairs and implement repairs (continuous commissioning). Analytic services for targeted buildings are to be included in the scope of the ATC service contract.
- Periodically (every 10-15 years) utilize energy services companies (ESCOs) to perform energy audits to identify potential large-scale energy projects that essentially pay for themselves via the associated energy savings, known as energy performance contracting (EPC).
- A typical EPC project takes about five years from inception to completion. Once complete, the payback period is typically ten years. Likewise, it generally takes ten years for new technologies to become technically feasible and cost-effective.
- Therefore, the estimated timing for future energy audits and potential EPC projects is 2022-2027, 2032-2037, and 2042-2047.
- Utilize State’s EPC contract to access pre-qualified ESCOs.
- Select and implement large-scale energy projects based on operational needs and cost-effectiveness.
c) Procure more electricity from renewable sources.
- Strategically increase the percentage of electricity coming from renewable sources to 100% in a cost-effective manner.
- Utilize a practical blend of offsite Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs), onsite solar, and Renewable Energy Credits (RECs).
- RECs provide the flexibility to meet annual goals.
Elimination of all Scope 2 emissions (35,500 MTeCO2)
- Minimal extra funding is needed for ongoing energy conservation initiatives. Implementation will primarily utilize Facilities Management employees, the ATC contractor, and existing building automation systems (BAS). There will be some increased workload for personnel and Shops involved in implementation.
- Initially, minimal extra funding is to be needed for building analytics as the ATC contractor is to provide this as a part ATC service contract. Depending upon the scope, additional resources may be needed to perform additional analysis, utilize other vendors systems, add additional sensors, and implement recommended repairs/upgrades identified by the analysis.
- Minimal extra funding is needed for EPC investigation and implementation. The State’s EPC contract can be utilized to assign pre-qualified ESCOs to perform campus energy audits and EPC proposals. ESCO’s project development costs are typically rolled into the total project costs and paid back over time via the resulting energy savings. No upfront capital is needed, and there are no fees if the university opts not to proceed beyond the initial audit.
- There is a cost premium associated with renewable energy. Like other energy commodities, the price of RECs is set by the marketplace and varies depending on supply and demand for particular types of RECs, such as local vs national, Tier I versus Tier II, and source (hydro, wind, solar, offshore wind, etc.). Future REC prices are uncertain. In 2018, UMBC was able to purchase Green-e certified RECs for $1.00 each. At the other end of the spectrum, ORECs (for offshore wind) are over $130.00 each. Each REC represents the renewable energy attributes for 1 MWh of electricity. A reasonable, average estimate for RECs is $5.00 each. At $5/MWh, the premium to get 100 percent of UMBC’s electricity (67 million kWh) from renewables would be $335,000 per year.
Net-Zero Stationary Combustion
Reduce and ultimately eliminate carbon footprint attributed to onsite, stationary combustion of natural gas and fuel oil.
a) Find and repair hot water leaks throughout the campus.
b) Prioritize troubleshooting approach to find and repair obvious energy wasters.
- Utilize BAS to identify AHUs and rooms that are chronically overheating.
- When the chillers are off (economizer mode), utilize BAS to find AHUs and rooms that are overheating when there is no mechanical cooling to mask the leaking reheat.
c) Optimize the performance, efficiency, and scheduling of AHUs.
- Find and repair valves that are not sequencing properly and/or are not closing off when commanded closed.
- Find and repair dampers that are not sequencing properly and/or outside air dampers that are not closing when the unit is off.
- Setup/maintain HVAC equipment schedules in BAS to match the actual occupancy of each building, lecture halls, AHU zones, etc. Setup/maintain HVAC equipment schedules in BAS for campus holidays. Set vacant rooms in resident halls and vacant apartment units to unoccupied mode during winter/spring/summer breaks.
d) Optimize the performance and efficiency of terminal boxes.
- Find and repair reheat valves that are not closing off.
- Ensure that the heating mode setpoint is 70o and that reheat valves remain closed until space is below heating set point.
- Implement preventive maintenance plan and building analytics to routinely evaluate the operation of reheat valves and terminal box controllers.
- Adjust and improve HVAC controls and airflow parameters.
e) Implement a retro-commissioning schedule of HVAC controls.
f) Once maximum efficiency is achieved and stationary combustion is reasonably minimized, utilize carbon offsets and/or future technological breakthrough(s) to offset the “unavoidable” greenhouse gas emissions associated with essential stationary combustion.
Reduction of Scope 1 emissions by 15,000 MTeCO2.
- Minimal extra funding is needed for finding leaks or energy waste in the HVAC systems. Implementation will primarily utilize Facilities Management employees, the ATC contractor, and existing building automation systems (BAS). There will be some increased workload for personnel and Shops involved in implementation. Some repairs will require money for parts and/or subcontractors; however, these repair costs are not attributed to the CAP because the repairs are necessary to restore HVAC systems to working order.
- There is a cost premium associated with carbon offsets. The price of carbon offsets varies widely from less than $1 per ton to more than $50 per ton. The price depends on the type of carbon offset project, the carbon standard under which it was developed, the location of the offset, the co-benefits associated with the project, and the vintage year. A reasonable, average estimate for carbon offsets is $10 per ton. At $10/MTeCO2, the cost to offset 100% of UMBC’s stationary combustion (15,000 MTeCO2) would be $150,000 per year.