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Coronavirus taught us to save electricity

Throughout the shutdown, the operations department at Health was focused on learning from this extraordinary situation. Their experiences are promising for future energy reductions at AU.

During the coronavirus shutdown, the operations department at Health had to shut down buildings in a way that’s not normally possible due to research activities. 

So in the midst of that unfortunate situation, a unique opportunity arose: to test what completely shutting down the faculty’s buildings means for our energy consumption. Health took advantage of that situation, and the results of these tests have given us important new insight into the energy consumption of our buildings that will now be use to benefit both the climate and the bottom line. As Conor Richard O’Connor Leerhøy, head of building operations at Health explained, 

“From the beginning, we knew we had to save on energy during the shutdown to offset the cost of PPE. So now we have some results that are positive for our energy consumption going forward.” 

The first step towards a better understanding of Health’s energy consumption was setting up a business intelligence system at the faculty to monitor and analyse energy consumption even more precisely than normal. This made it possible for Leerhøy and his staff to regularly measure and draw conclusions about energy consumption. And this turned out to be a really effective tool for understanding energy consumption in Health’s buildings. 

“In the system, we could se that even when we shut the buildings down, they weren’t shut down enough with our original setup – which means they used more electricity than necessary. In this way, we figured out pretty quickly that there was room for improvement in relation to shutting down our buildings – which would also mean energy savings,” he said. 

In particular, Health’s operations department got better at making digital visualisations of energy consumption, which became a useful tool for getting an overview quickly and easily. These visualisations could be used to adjust energy consumption to make sure no more energy was consumed than absolutely necessary.

 This new understanding of the energy consumption of the Health’s buildings will have a beneficial effect on electricity and water bills in the future, Leerhøy predicted: 

“Just to give you a rough estimate, I expect that this new knowledge about our energy consumption will allow us to save 10 per cent in future.” 

The coronavirus shutdown experiences at Health will be drawn on in the work of reaching the targets the university set in the new AU climate strategy launched earlier this year. 

In this series of articles, University Director Arnold Boon highlights important operational tasks being carried out in various corners of the administration. The aim of the series is to give administrative employees insight into what kinds of tasks their co-workers in other units perform, and to highlight some of the tasks that are performed behind the scenes. 

Read previous articles in the series: