Thursday, 30 August 2012

Research on energy savings opportunities in university libraries

an article by Jeremy Linden and James Reilly (Rochester Institute of Technology, New York, USA) and Peter Herzog, (Herzog/Wheeler & Associates, LLP, St Paul, Minnesota, USA) published in Library Hi Tech Volume 30 Issue 3 (2012)


Mechanical systems in library environments are typically designed to run continuously in order to maintain the desired environmental conditions for preservation purposes, often resulting in a high cost in dollars and energy consumption. Altering these conditions through changed HVAC operating schedules is a risk many librarians and institutions are hesitant to take. This study aims to introduce the methodology and early findings of current research into the question of whether energy usage can be significantly reduced in libraries by carefully monitored and risk-managed shutdowns of air handling units (AHUs) during unoccupied hours in selected spaces without compromising the quality of the preservation environment.
Design/methodology approach
As part of the project, the authors are monitoring up to three air handling units (AHUs) at each of five partner institutions, three of which are university libraries or repositories, as well as the associated collections spaces served by the units.
Early findings show the potential value of systems shutdowns in various parts of the country, while also identifying regions that are less favourable.
Practical implications
In all cases, the experimentation with and successful implementation of a shutdown schedule, without adversely affecting preservation conditions, was preceded by careful documentation and risk management, as described.
Unlike unilateral HVAC equipment shutdowns and setbacks conducted solely for energy management, with little regard for collections, this risk-managed and documented approach potentially allows for the reduction of energy usage without placing collections’ health at risk.

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