Thursday the University of Utah became the first organization in the state to be recognized by the Department of Energy’s Better Building Challenge. A recently completed project cut energy consumption by more than 40 percent in the Dumke Health Professions Education Building. It houses the Departments of Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Neurobiology and Anatomy with classrooms and labs. Myron Willson is the director of the Sustainability Resource Center at the U. He says the building’s usefulness far outweighed its crumbling heating and cooling system.
“So when the Better Buildings Challenge came on line and we were looking for a showcase building this seemed to be one because of the large savings that we were getting," says Willson, "in addition to the savings on maintenance calls and happier occupants. So it met all of the needs.”
Willson says the HVAC upgrades will save the university $57,000 a year with a return on investment in five to six years. He says the university is on track to reach its 2020 goal to reduce energy consumption by 20 percent across a total of 13 million square feet of building space.