University of Oklahoma researcher Li Song has developed a low-cost method to help companies go green while saving money.
By using sensors and modifying airflow volumes, Song is able to make heating and air conditioning systems more efficient, reducing electricity usage and costs.
“Saving energy is important,” Song said. “Not only are the DOE (Department of Energy) and EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) initiatives gaining momentum, but also we work with manufacturing building owners who can increase their profit margin by reducing their heating and cooling bill.”
The system can be used on any large building, including warehouses, schools and hospitals. On average, buildings using Song’s system have seen a 20 percent annual energy savings.
On older, inefficient buildings, the benefit can be as much as 50 percent, she said.
Improving a system’s efficiency also can have longer-term effects.
“If we run the system right, we expand its lifespan,” Song said. “We make the system more reliable and reduce the maintenance.”
Not all of the benefits of improved air systems are financial.
“More efficient HVAC systems provide a more comfortable environment,” said Temur Akhmedov, director of energy solutions at Oklahoma City-based ES2 Inc. “It also contributes to a healthier air quality in the building. Those benefits are harder to quantify, but they are there.”
Investments usually pay off
Song first developed her process in 2000 while she was working on her Ph.D. at the University of Nebraska. After graduation, she spent five years implementing the process at hundreds of buildings.
“The system was tedious, time consuming and expensive,” Song said.