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Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

April 17, 2009

Live Green!

Loan funds will improve lab efficiency

by Diana Pounds

Twenty-one laboratories in the Carver Co-Lab will be retrofitted to improve fume hood efficiency. The project is the latest to receive funding from the Live Green revolving loan fund. The fund provides interest-free loans for university projects that promote energy conservation and sustainability and provide a return on the investment.

Promising treatment for fume hoods

Fume hoods, which exhaust hazardous or unpleasant fumes from labs, are notorious energy-users. For the Carver Co-Lab project, the laboratory air handlers will be modified to reduce the number of air changes per hour from 10 to eight -- a number that environmental health and safety staff have determined to be safe.

In addition, occupancy sensors will be added to rooms with fume hoods. When the labs are not occupied, the air handlers will reduce the number of air changes to four per hour.

"It's a wonderful demonstration project," said Dave Miller, director of facilities planning and management operations. "If the project works as expected -- cutting air flow to less than half -- it can be applied to many labs across the university."

The co-lab project will cost approximately $25,000. Subsequent energy savings are estimated at $5,000 annually.

Loans still available

Loan funds remain available for energy conservation and sustainability projects that can be repaid through energy savings within five years. For those seeking project ideas for their buildings, Miller recommends some old, but useful, documents.

In 1990, FP&M staff did in-depth energy audits of all buildings on campus. The audits included many energy-saving recommendations, and, nearly two decades later, most of those recommendations remain useful.

"If your building had old windows or poor insulation in 1990, that's likely still the case," Miller said.

To get a copy of the energy audit for your building, contact Merry Rankin, director of sustainability,

FP&M staff also will visit offices to offer advice on potential energy-saving projects. Contact Miller,, to schedule an appointment.


Live Green!

More information on Iowa State's "Live Green!" initiative is online.