University Office Plaza Certified ENERGY STAR

Energy star plaque in the University Office Plaza building

The University Office Plaza, located at the corner of 23rd and University Avenues near TCF Bank Stadium, has become the third Twin Cities Campus facility to be rated as an ENERGY STAR building by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Donhowe Building (June 2011) and Education Sciences (August 2011) were the first two campus facilities to receive ENERGY STAR ratings.

For nearly 20 years, the EPA has administered the familiar ENERGY STAR program for household electronics and appliances. Similar to the ENERGY STAR score sheets displayed on washing machines and water heaters, the EPA also administers a scoring system for buildings. This tool serves as a method for comparing a building's energy efficiency to the efficiency of similar buildings.

To earn the ENERGY STAR rating, the University Office Plaza's energy consumption data (including building hours, size, number of occupants, types of lighting systems, etc.) were compared to hundreds of similar buildings. Only those buildings with energy efficiency in the top 25% of all similar buildings qualify for the ENERGY STAR label. University Office Plaza earned a rating of 91, meaning it's energy efficiency rates in the top nine percent of all office buildings. (View the Statement of Energy Performance). Energy efficient upgrades to University Office Plaza prior to certification include a 2009 re-lamping project which installed high efficiency fluorescent lighting and the March 2012 installation of a 38.4 kilowatt solar array on the building's roof.

"The Energy Star Program provides the university with a universally accepted standard for validating the results of campus energy efficiency efforts," said Jim Green, Assistant Director of Energy Management. "Our hope is that when the folks who work in, operate or maintain a building walk by that Energy Star plague every morning, it will remind them to continue to do the little things that will add up to huge energy savings. It all adds up."

Energy Management uses the EPA's ENERGY STAR rating system and the State of Minnesota's "B3" (Buildings, Benchmarks and Beyond) database to benchmark and compare University buildings' energy performance against similar buildings. The Building Energy Report Card (PDF) on the Facilities Management website was established to provide occupants with a visual indication of how campus buildings are performing from an energy efficiency perspective. The report card provides a meaningful ranking of each building's energy performance by comparing each building's weather-normalized Energy Use Intensity (energy consumed per square foot per year) to the amount of energy the building would use if it was built in accordance with the State's current Energy Code.

Collectively, these tools facilitate recognition of the U's achievements in energy efficiency and help direct future efforts and resources to buildings where significant efficiency improvements are possible.

Sue Borowick (at left) from the School of Public Health and University Service Vice President Pam Wheelock reveal the ENERGY STAR plaque.
Sue Borowick (at left) from the School of Public Health and University Service Vice President Pam Wheelock reveal the ENERGY STAR plaque.

Pam Wheelock (at left) and Energy Management Assistant Director Jim Green address the crowd.
Pam Wheelock (at left) and Energy Management Assistant Director Jim Green address the crowd.

Jim Green fires up the crowd.
Jim Green fires up the crowd.