Platform Monitors Fume Hood Usage, Saves Energy

In 2017 Aircuity, was installed throughout the Hartline Science Center, on the campus of Bloomsburg University. As a result, Bloomsburg began saving energy which they could redirect back into the operating budget.

Hartline Science Center upgrades to Aircuity’s latest platform, allowing users to monitor fume hood usage.
Hartline Science Center upgrades to Aircuity’s latest platform, allowing users to monitor fume hood usage.

In 2019 they upgraded to Aircuity’s latest platform. This enabled them to:

  • View savings in real time
  • Monitor fume hood usage
  • Identify rooms with high airflows
  • Identify rooms with poor air quality

Using this tool, they recognized that many fume hoods were being left open unnecessarily causing many thousands of dollars in lost energy savings.

A Student-Run Program

Aircuity and Bloomsburg came up with a program employing a part-time student intern to create a program to get the sashes closed and increase savings. The University hired senior engineering major, Roberto Reyes, who used Aircuity’s tool and identified approximately 20 fume hoods that were left open and/or potentially not working properly.

Roberto’s program uncovered 10 fume hoods that were malfunctioning in various ways and he worked with their controls vendor to get them fixed. Several of the 10 fume hoods were running at 100 percent flow even when the sash was closed due to a failing actuator. A few others were found to have a face velocity below the University’s standards. Some fume hoods were purposely left open due to the requirements of the experiment being conducted and they were left in their current positions.

Results

The fume hood performance metric on MyAircuity identified 10 fume hoods that were malfunctioning in various ways.
The fume hood performance metric on MyAircuity identified 10 fume hoods that were malfunctioning in various ways.

The remaining hoods had been accidentally left open while not in use and this was addressed through a program of communication with department heads and users. The strategy was based on communicating 3 key items:

  • If left open, the average fume hood will cost the University almost $5,000 per year
  • The average user is in front of the hood about 5 percent of a 24 hour day
  • The University knows exactly where your sash position is at all times and where you rank relative to all other fume hood users.

The internship spanned about a month with Roberto putting in 10–15 hours a week. The bulk of his time, especially in the beginning, was spent coordinating with their controls vendor to get the hoods fixed. After that, Roberto was able to do a quick check of the fume hood performance metric on MyAircuity and an email to researchers working in labs where sashes had been left open.

“Aircuity’s analytics instantly highlighted fume hoods with mechanical issues that we didn’t know existed. We were able to get the hoods fixed to ensure a safer environment for researchers and help the university reach its full savings potential,” said Roberto Reyes, Senior Engineering Major Bloomsburg University.

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