This is a voluntary energy saving program especially suited for older laboratory buildings where single fans exhaust each fume hood, such as Bio II, MSI, and BSIF.
LabRATS staff received a maintenance notice that fifty-five fans on the roof of Biology II building needed maintenance. This building is about 40 years old. Over half of the fans were for constant volume fume hoods, and the occupant power switches have been disabled so they run 24/7. We asked ourselves three simple questions, “What does it cost to run a hood for a year”, “Can they be turned off safely?”, and, finally, “Are they all in use?”
Even though the fan motors were – horsepower or use about 1 kW each, they effectively consume 2-3 kW because they draw up heated or cooled air1. This means each costs UCSB $2,000&bdash;3,000 per year in energy alone. The campus Energy Manager was enthusiastic about LabRATS coordinating turning off hoods. As a program initiated and run by scientists, we have greater credibility in asking our peers if they would like to have their fume hoods turned off.
Next, the staff at EH&S told us hoods could be disabled if:
1) Negative air balance was not disrupted
2) No chemicals were stored in the hood
3) Notices making users aware that the hoods are off were placed prominently on the sashes
HVAC engineers at FM assured us that current exhaust blowers already exceeded supply, so turning off several hoods would not affect negative air balance.
After getting these approvals, we checked in with the chairs of EEMB and MCDB. They encouraged us to inquire with all biology staff who occupy six or seven buildings of varying ages. We sent out an email inquiry and offered free pizza to labs who volunteered to shut off their hoods. To thank the researchers, Woodstock’s Pizza donated certificates for pizza slices redeemable on-campus (THANK YOU!).
At least nine managers or faculty joined the program, including several who wished to eliminate noise in their workspace. People in other buildings requested the service as well, and that option is being looked into. One person wanted his hood disabled for over ten years, but couldn’t get approval without the coordination that LabRATS provided. We made up a notice which we applied to the hoods before requesting that Facilities Maintenance check air balances and turn off the circuit breakers. We notified the EH&S hood inspector about which ones were disabled as well.
We awarded certificates congratulating lab groups for turning off their hoods at their weekly meetings and used those opportunities to discuss laboratory conservation and the Bulb Free and Laboratory Assessments programs, as well as to take fun pictures for the website. Each year that these researchers keep their hoods off saves UCSB $20,000-30,000.
If you have an unused hood and want to get it switched off as well, contact us. We will help you shut off your hood and will provide your entire lab with free Woodstock’s Pizza coupons which are redeemable at both the campus and IV locations.