U Stands for Greener Buildings


(Photo by Dane Goodwin)

(Photo by Dane Goodwin)
(Photo by Dane Goodwin)

The U’s Dumke Health Professions Education building was the first in the state to participate in The Better Buildings Challenge.
The Better Buildings Challenge was launched in 2011 by President Obama in order to improve energy efficiency throughout the United States. The main goal was to reduce overall energy use in commercial buildings by 20 percent within ten years.
More than 200 organizations have partnered with the U.S. Department of Energy to achieve this goal, and around 2,000 buildings have been successfully updated. According to the department, it is projected there will be savings of more than $80 billion per year if the initiative is met.
The Department of Physical Therapy and the Division of Occupational Therapy built the Dumke building in 1972 with offices, classrooms and clinics. It also houses laboratories and offices for the Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy. Almost half of the building is dedicated to refrigerators and laboratories for the anatomy and body donor programs.
Stephanie Dolmat-Connell, the sustainability manager at the U, said the U is focusing on improving current buildings more than new buildings through the challenge.
“Our BBC commitment helps us to maintain our existing buildings to high energy standards,” Dolmat-Connell said. “While our new buildings are all constructed to higher efficiency standards, it is important to improve our existing buildings that still have a long life ahead of them. This helps the university meet its carbon and energy reduction goals while saving the U money in utility costs.”
Dolmat-Connell said the U chose to participate in the Better Buildings Challenge with improvements to the Dumke building because of its poor heating and cooling systems. The laboratories, classrooms and refrigerators inside Dumke require a lot of energy to keep the rooms and equipment temperature stable. The heating and cooling systems were improved, which consisted of putting in new controls to replace the outdated, less efficient ones, and adding two new high efficiency broilers.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, these improvements ended with 41 percent energy savings, saving the U thousands of dollars in the long run.
Like most U students, Haley Lange, a strategic communication major, was not aware of improvements being made to the Dumke building.
“It’ll help the environment, though,” Lange said. “It’s good to conserve and reduce where we can. And who wouldn’t want to save money by being more efficient? It’s a win-win.”
Dumke is just the cornerstone in the university’s goal of reducing carbon by 20 percent with eight percent of that goal achieved to date. Within the next few years, improvements to the Skaggs Biology building, the South Biology building and the Henry Eyring Chemistry buildings will be made. These changes are meant to help the U reduce energy emission costs, save money and diminish the U’s carbon footprint.
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