As one of the highest cost-per-square-foot buildings at the University of New Mexico, the Center for High Tech Materials (CHTM) associate director, Majeed Hayat, felt it was necessary to figure out ways to reduce the total energy consumption in the building.

CHTM is one of the leading research facilities on campus, and in just over a year, CHTM’s Green Committee implemented sustainability and energy conservation initiatives that led to an energy reduction of over 20 percent in the facility.

"For over thirty years CHTM has always aimed to be a leader in using material and photonics science to build technologies that benefit our nation and society,” said Hayat. “It is critically important for us to lead the green campaign because we want to be friendly to the Earth as we work every day to advance science and technology."

In January 2014, Administrative and Facilities Manager Joel Straquadine formed a green committee that included CHTM professors, students and researchers to address potential sustainable or energy conservation projects in the facility.

“The committee was formed to get input from faculty and students on opportunities to reduce our energy consumption without disruption to our on-going research,” said Straquadine. “Research facilities have been unable to practice previous energy-saving initiatives due to a lack of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) control, and because certain lab experiments require specific air quality measurements and air changes.”

One of the first projects the green committee implemented was to upgrade the current HVAC system with automated controls.

Straquadine said CHTM installed new mechanical controls on air handlers one and two, which serve the offices on the east, west and south side of the building.

He said the committee also retrofitted an office, a classroom, and three conference rooms with LED lighting, and installed occupancy sensors in the laboratory service corridors, classrooms and restrooms.

The Molecular Beam Epitaxy System is one of the many instruments that allows CHTM to conduct world class research. Pictured l. to r.: Dr. Sanjay Krishna, Ahmad Mansoori, Emma Renteria and Sadhvikas Addamane.

Since the implementation, CHTM has reduced the total energy consumption by 21 percent.

“Following the completion of the first phase of our new building controls, we implemented an aggressive equipment shut-down schedule so that our heating and cooling systems are not running while the building is typically unoccupied,” said Straquadine.

Straquadine said the next phase of the HVAC project will focus on the labs.

“Phase two is to take control of 24 labs,” Straquadine said. “We will reduce the air changes from 20 per hour to six per hour. We will install occupancy sensors on the hoods so that they will go to minimum flow if no one is standing in front of them. We will install variable frequency drives (VFD) on the supply and exhaust fans so that we can go to minimum flow whenever the lab is not occupied. We will also set up a schedule to take everything to minimum flows after hours.”

Besides upgrading HVAC control systems and lighting, the green committee is initiating a Lights-Out campaign to remind students, faculty, and researchers to turn off lights whenever lights are not necessary.

To kick-off the campaign, the green committee hosts a ping pong tournament Thursday, March 19 at 3:30 p.m. The winners of the tournament receive new LED lighting fixtures installed in their work area or office space.