Energy Energy and Built Environment

Area Overview

Purdue is seeking formal recognition for its sustainable building design efforts through the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program. LEED registered projects currently in design or construction include the Roger B. Gatewood Wing addition to the existing Mechanical Engineering Building, Marriott Hall, and the Recreational Sports Center Addition and Renovation. The Herrick Laboratory renovation and Wang Hall of Electrical Engineering are also planned to undergo LEED certification. These projects are tracking LEED for New Construction certification at the Gold and Silver levels.

The university is using its first applied experiences with LEED to evaluate the program’s benefits and drawbacks. Staff in the Office of the University Architect found that for its first two projects, less than one percent of the total project cost is attributed to LEED certification. These costs include LEED consulting, architecture and engineering premiums for LEED efforts, energy modeling (although this is becoming standard practice), and contractor LEED costs. Staff also found that current university design and construction standards already support the achievement of many LEED prerequisites and credits. With numerous colleges and universities adopting green building policies in recent years, this analysis lends strong support for a similar effort at Purdue.

The campus is also assessing the requirements and potential costs and benefits to piloting a building through the LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance rating system. This program is used to optimize energy and resource efficiency, create healthier working and learning environments, and minimize environmental impacts associated with building operation and maintenance. Some current practices at Purdue directly support this effort, such as the campus’s green cleaning program. This program, which won the American School & University magazine’s Best New Program award in 2009, is implemented across the West Lafayette central campus.

Buildings on the West Lafayette campus are supplied with steam, chilled water, and electricity by the Wade Utility Plant and a satellite chiller plant, both of which are owned and operated by Purdue University. Wade is a combined heat and power facility that houses three coal-fired boilers, a gas/oil-fired boiler, six water chillers, and two turbine generators. The northwest satellite chiller plant houses five water chillers. Together, Wade and the satellite plant President Cordova tours Wade Plant during Green Week generate 100 percent of the campus’s chilled water supply. Wade provides 100 percent of the campus’s heating steam and about 50 percent of its electrical power needs. The remaining electricity demand is supplied by Duke Energy. Purdue has been generating electricity through a highly efficient cogeneration process for over a hundred years. Cogeneration allows the university to produce electricity at 60 percent efficiency, whereas commercial utilities typically achieve 35 percent efficiency. This not only saves money, but produces fewer pollutant and greenhouse as emissions per unit of energy.

In addition to maintaining energy-efficient equipment and technologies at Wade, Purdue has many design practices and operations programs that target energy-using systems in individual buildings. All new buildings are designed to meet the energy efficiency requirements of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Standard 90.1-2007. All new and renovated laboratories are designed and constructed using Laboratories for the 21st Century (Labs21), a voluntary program that helps design teams create high performance laboratory facilities. Commissioning is required for all newly constructed buildings to ensure building systems are performing as designed. The university is also implementing retro commissioning in academic buildings to fine tune the mechanical systems to reflect current building usage. This effort is proving very successful, with the actual energy savings to date exceeding the anticipated savings by 4 percent.

While substantial energy savings can be gained by optimizing the performance of building systems, a facility’s energy consumption is also greatly influenced by the actions of building users. A campus-wide energy-metering project is underway that will enable Purdue to measure utilities usage and provide the campus community with real-time energy consumption data. Disseminating this information will help raise awareness of energy use on campus, provide a foundation for energy conservation outreach and education, and provide energy accounting capabilities that can support potential customer billing/incentive programs.

A variety of outreach programs targeting occupant behavior are already underway. Stickers on variable volume lab fume hoods remind users that shutting the sash saves energy and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. The student group Boiler Green Initiative secured a grant to place stickers on light switches in two classroom buildings and monitor energy use before and after sticker placement. New Purdue students living in the residence halls are made aware of their direct impact on energy use early in their college experience through a friendly dorm competition. Each semester, both energy and water use is tracked in four residence halls. The hall that achieves the greatest reductions receives a traveling trophy for their conservation efforts.

With energy security and climate change issues high in the nation’s psyche, Purdue is working diligently to reduce the environmental impact of its built environment. The university will use a multipronged approach that targets building design, efficient utility plant technologies, renewable energy sourcing, efficient building operation, and behavior change outreach to join other higher education campuses across the nation working to meet today’s energy challenges.


Purdue will track the following metrics to assess its energy and built environment performance over time.

Green building certification: 2014 Short Term Goals

  1. Pursue the formulation and promotion of a green building policy in collaboration with senior administration and the Sustainability Council Steering Committee.
  2. Investigate the potential of piloting a LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance project.

Green building certification: 2025 Long Term Goals

  1. Follow LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance program principals when it is feasible campus wide to gain the benefits of this program throughout the university.

Construction best management practices: 2014 Short Term Goals

  1. Investigate revising construction specifications to require contractors to recycle construction and demolition materials.

Construction best management practices: 2025 Long Term Goals

  1. Develop construction indoor air quality (IAQ) management guidelines for contractors to protect IAQ and worker/occupant health, based on ASHRAE Standard 189.1, Standard for the Design of High-Performance, Green Buildings.
  2. Achieve a 65 percent construction and demolition waste diversion rate.

Building energy: 2014 Short Term Goals

  1. Collaborate with the Space Management and Academic Scheduling Department to facilitate the scheduling and consolidation of evening and weekend class schedules.
  2. Lead our Sightlines peer group as the lowest energy consumer (BTU/GSF/year) by 2014.
  3. Pursue the formulation and promotion of a campus wide Energy Policy.
  4. Evaluate ASHRAE Standard 189.1, Standard for the Design of High-Performance, Green Buildings as a reference standard for broad application at Purdue.
  5. Use qualified energy savings bonding authority to fund an energy conservation initiative.
  6. Perform controls optimization to optimize existing mechanical equipment and controls performance on the ten highest energy consumers within the next two years and the 25 highest consumers in the four years following.

Building energy: 2025 Long Term Goals

  1. Offset all increased energy consumption attributed to newly constructed buildings through energy efficient design and energy conservation programs.
  2. Install utility meters at the remaining campus buildings.
  3. Investigate opportunities for server virtualization and consolidation into highly efficient centers.
  4. Evaluate Energy Star and Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC) scores for a subset of campus buildings when historical energy use data is available via the campus-wide metering effort to develop baselines for different building types and to compare to the national average.
  5. Evaluate the Superior Energy Performance plant certification program for potential involvement.
  6. Develop a measurement and verification plan consistent with International Performance Measurement and Verification Protocol (IPMVP) to complement the campus-wide energy-metering project.
  7. Retrofit all constant volume building pumping systems with variable flow capabilities to optimize the centralized chilled water pumping system.
  8. Implement demand side limiting that temporarily disables low priority equipment to respond to peak rate utility pricing and momentary equipment capacity restrictions.
  9. Emphasize building orientation early in the design of new projects to maximize passive energy utilization.
  10. Convert airfield lighting and signage to low energy LED fixtures, using federal funding as available.

Renewable energy: 2014 Short Term Goals

  1. Continue to research the use of alternative fuels at Wade Utility Plant.

Renewable energy: 2025 Long Term Goals

  1. Develop on campus wind capacity and investigate the following potential opportunities identified through staff, faculty and student research:
    • Small turbine installation to supplement the existing utility power provided to the intramural light fields on the northwest corner of campus; proposed by a team of Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS) students
    • Small turbine integrated with the existing photovoltaic installation at the Beck center; proposed by Dr. Sandy Fleeter of the Mechanical Engineering Department
    • Wind farm installation sized 10 to 20 megawatts, sited at the Animal Sciences Research and Education Center (ASREC), a 1700-acre plot west of campus; four years worth of data from a meteorological tower at the site show that wind resources are substantial enough to supply roughly half of the campus’s peak demand
    • Small research turbine on the roof of Knoy Hall
  2. Explore opportunities to use manure from the Animal Sciences Research and Education Center (ASREC) in an anaerobic digestion or other energy production application.
  3. Partner with local utility suppliers, and other local industries to develop and fund alternative energy installations on campus.
  4. Source renewable energy for 10 percent of the campus’s total energy demand.
  5. Install a photovoltaic or solar thermal installation to pilot these alternative energy opportunities.

Greenhouse gas emissions inventory: 2014 Short Term Goals

  1. Calculate the university’s carbon footprint annually.

Greenhouse gas emissions inventory: 2025 Long Term Goals

  1. Quantify greenhouse gas emissions associated with energy generated onsite and purchased energy to develop a campus baseline and track over time as different factors change over time, such as implementation of energy efficiency and conservation projects, increased renewable energy usage, and campus growth in students and square footage.
  2. Populate the greenhouse gas and pollutant emissions metrics contained in this plan annually to establish baselines and track performance as the campus’s energy use changes overtime.

Occupant engagement: 2014 Short Term Goals

  1. Develop and implement a communications plan for issuing formal campus announcements and media releases that promote the value and necessity of energy conservation.
  2. Expand behavioral energy projects to educate building users on energy conservation practices, including the following:
    • Inter-residence hall energy competitions
    • Light switch stickers
    • Graduate fellowships and/or internships in energy conservation education

Occupant engagement: 2025 Long Term Goals

  1. Enhance and expand the Purdue Energy Conservation Program by doing the following:
    • Develop a multi-faceted occupant education campaign with coordinated and branded website information, LED screens showing building energy use in lobbies, and a building dashboard website
    • Provide energy use statistics online that clearly communicate the campus’s energy use breakdown, seasonal use, and greenhouse gas emissions
    • Provide frequently asked questions and energy saving tips online
    • Establish an energy conservation hotline and progress tracking website
    • Rapidly expand implementation of a campus "lights out" campaign to curb unnecessary lighting by utilizing the existing Safety Committee structure
    • Develop a best practices pamphlet as a resource for building users on ways they can save energy
  2. Develop a financial incentive program for academic units to reduce energy consumption and share in resulting cost savings.
  3. Challenge other universities within the State of Indiana to residence hall energy competitions, which are currently held between metered residence halls on the Purdue campus each semester.

Strategic Plan