Optimizing Energy in the College of Education

UT's College of Education


Even though hundreds of students, faculty, and staff work in the George I. Sánchez (SZB) building every day, it is unlikely that they have noticed that this building—the home of the College of Education—is using 30% less energy than it did a few years ago.

SZB is 261,000 square feet of classroom and research space that has been part of the UT Austin campus since 1975. Like many of the older buildings on campus, energy use was overlooked.

Until now.

The Energy Management and Optimization Division (EMO) of UT Austin’s Utilities and Energy Management is charged with finding ways to reduce energy consumption on campus. In 2018, they were recognized for reducing campus energy consumption by 20% in six years—exceeding their goal well ahead of the 2020 deadline and despite the surge in growth of the UT campus.

EMO teams typically target one building at a time to determine how to minimize extra energy use without impacting comfort and safety. For the recent project in SZB, the team fine-tuned the air and heating systems by installing new sensors that monitor indoor moisture. Because of the sensors, HVAC units now run with less effort when the building air is dry and future problems can be diagnosed and addressed more quickly.

The entire cost of the project was paid off within three months through fuel cost savings.

“We did not accomplish this on our own,” says Matt Stevens, EMO's Building Energy and Resource Steward. “We wish to thank building management and occupants, zone maintenance and engineering support, the building analyst team, the Office of Sustainability, upper management of Utilities and Energy Management, and all of the others who have given their support to this energy-saving project.”

Written by Kristin Phillips, Communications Coordinator in the Office of Sustainability