SALT LAKE CITY — As part of the Better Buildings Challenge, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has recognized the University of Utah for its leadership in energy efficiency and for reducing energy use by 40 percent in a historic campus building, saving the university $57,000 a year.

Through DOE’s Better Buildings Challenge, the university upgraded the 42-year-old Dumke Health Professions Education Building and is on track to meet an energy reduction goal of 20 percent by 2020 across 13 million square feet of building space.

“The University of Utah, along with other Better Buildings partners, is saving millions of dollars by cutting energy waste and reducing carbon emissions,” said Dave Danielson, assistant secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. “The university’s efforts showcase strategies that can be replicated at similar buildings, institutions, and facilities across America.”

The University of Utah identified the building as a Better Buildings showcase project because of its unreliable heating and cooling system. The building underwent comprehensive HVAC system improvements to update the system including replacing antiquated and faulty controls, two boilers, and related equipment. As a multi-use building, it houses classroom, office, laboratory, and clinic space for the Departments of Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Neurobiology, and Anatomy. Nearly half of the building is occupied by energy-intensive labs and walk-in refrigerators for the university’s human anatomy and body donor programs.

“We are pleased to complete the first Better Buildings Challenge showcase upgrade in the state and to save money and reduce our environmental impact,” said Amy Wildermuth, interim chief sustainability officer at the University of Utah. “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.”

Additionally, the university will fund its next set of efficiency projects through its Energy Management Fund. The fund uses the savings from energy efficiency projects to continually reinvest in future projects. The university also implemented a streamlined financing process for administrative and energy management staff to propose, select, and implement efficiency projects, resulting in greater energy savings returned to the fund for future work.

Across the country, Better Buildings Challenge partners are advancing energy efficiency at more than 9,000 facilities with more than 2,100 buildings improving efficiency by at least 20 percent and another 4,500 by at least 10 percent, compared to their baseline years.

For more information about the Better Buildings Challenge, visit

Publication date: 9/15/2014

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