Using energy profiles to identify university energy reduction opportunities

01 Jun 2017

Purpose ? The purpose of this paper is to outline efforts at the University of Johannesburg, a large metropolitan university in Gauteng province, to examine energy efficiency within the context of the green campus movement, through the analysis of electricity consumption patterns. The study is particularly relevant in light of the cumulative 230 per cent increase in electricity costs between 2008 and 2014 in South Africa that has forced institutions of higher education to seek ways to reduce energy consumption. Design/Methodology/Approach ? A quantitative research design was adopted for the analysis of municipal electricity consumption records using a case study approach to identify trends and patterns in consumption. The largest campus of the University of Johannesburg, which is currently one of the largest residential universities in South Africa, was selected as a case study. Average diurnal consumption profiles were plotted according to phases of the academic calendar, distinguished by specific periods of active teaching and research (in-session); study breaks, examinations and administration (out-of-session); and recesses. Average profiles per phase of the academic calendar were constructed from the hourly electricity consumption and power records using ExcelTM pivot tables and charts. Findings ? It was found that the academic calendar has profound effects on energy consumption by controlling the level of activity. Diurnal maximum consumption corresponds to core working hours, peaking at an average of 2,500 kWh during ?in-session? periods, 2,250 kWh during ?out-of-session? periods and 2,100 kWh during recess. A high base load was evident throughout the year (between 1,300 and 1,650 kWh), mainly attributed to heating and cooling. By switching off the 350 kW chiller plant on weekdays, a 9 per cent electricity reduction could be achieved during out-of-session and recess periods. Similarly, during in-session periods, a 6 per cent reduction could be achieved. Practical implications ? Key strategies and recommendations are presented to stimulate energy efficiency implementation within the institution