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Energy and Engineering

Pioneers in the Field

The Energy and Engineering (E&E) team has three primary functions:

  • Operate and maintain safe and reliable utility services for campus facilities.  
  • Drive the university towards intelligent and sustainable energy usage.
  • Promote awareness of engineering requirements and decision making based on facility life cycle costs.

The energy team has maintained high standards for energy conservation projects that have contributed to the university becoming carbon neutral two years earlier than scheduled.

E&E is a highly diverse and technical group comprising four distinct functional teams:

Within its Energy group, American University has two team members, Juan Allen and Courtney Chinn, who serve as the full-time nucleus of our energy mission and team. They perform, identify, develop, and implement energy conservation measures, energy education, and outreach on a full-time basis. This team optimizes energy use on campus by implementing innovative measures to stop and prevent energy waste, increase efficiency, and increase renewable power utilization whenever feasible. Reducing energy consumption continues to be a priority to the department and is at the core of our contributions to AU’s standing as the first carbon-neutral university in the United States.

To find out more about AU’s energy conservation visit Energy & Engineering’s News and Updates page.

Central Plant Operations’ licensed staff operates and maintains the campus' domestic water, hot water, and chilled water utility systems, ensuring that they remain safe, efficient, and reliable in accordance with all federal, state, and local regulations and compliance requirements.

The main heating plant, located in the Asbury building, has nine, 6,000,000 BTU/Hr water heaters. Combined, they can raise the temperature of an Olympic pool by almost 10 °F in one hour. This heat is sent, as hot water, through newly installed underground pipes to support heating and hot water needs across campus.

Central Plant also operates the campus chillers (and their associated cooling towers) with the capacity to generate 5,000 tons of cooling. This is enough to turn an Olympic pool into an ice cube in just under five hours. Like hot water, cold water travels in pipes and helps maintain cooling needs across campus.

The Central Plant team operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to support the campus community. Central Plant staff members handle calls after normal business hours to make sure that any critical building, utility, or facility infrastructure concerns are investigated and are addressed as appropriate so that emergencies do not develop or escalate.  After hours calls are directed to the 2FIX (2349) hot line.

The members of the Electrical and Life Safety unit are licensed electricians versed in National Fire Protection Agency and National Electric Code requirements. Together they help ensure proper safety through the operation and maintenance of:

  • The campus Medium Voltage Electrical Distribution System (Campus Feeders, Transformers, and Switchgear)
  • Emergency electrical service powered by more than 20 stand-by generators
  • AU's central fire alarm system, covering more than 40 buildings
  • AU's Fire Sprinkler and Suppression systems

The building automation team comprises technicians skilled in HVAC, low-voltage power, telecommunications systems, networking, and industrial software programming.

This team operates and maintains the central system controllers and software that manages and monitors more than 12,000 building automation data points that control temperatures and air flow throughout campus buildings.

Throughout the campus, building HVAC, lighting, and other related energy consuming equipment are scheduled, dispatched, operated, analyzed, alarmed, or otherwise monitored as necessary to ensure the building environment, occupant comfort, and energy conservation objectives are maintained as appropriate and consistent with the university’s mission, goals, and policies.

The building automation team is vital to Facilities Management's ability to operate, maintain, and monitor the university's energy systems and equipment on a continuous basis and supports Facilities Management operators and technicians’ efforts to make accurate and timely diagnoses and responses to customer heating, cooling, and ventilation needs.

American University staff stand in front of Batelle-Tompkins building with ENERGY STAR certification

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