University awarded nearly $3.9 million from NYSERDA for energy efficiency projects

After a competitive application review, Energy Services and Sustainability (ESS) was awarded nearly $3.9 million from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority’s (NYSERDA) Commercial & Industrial Accelerated Efficiency program for highly impactful energy efficiency projects.

The majority of the funding will go toward HVAC optimization, which will have the greatest impact on energy savings and carbon emission reductions. Other projects include adding extra insulation via window skins to parts of Rush Rhees Library and the electrification of the Brown Hound Downtown kitchen at the Memorial Art Gallery, which is underway. The University is splitting the cost of these projects evenly with NYSERDA, contributing their own $3.9 million.


HVAC optimization

The HVAC optimization project alone is anticipated to save 90,168 million British thermal units (MMBtu) of natural gas and 28,709 megawatt hours (MWh) of electricity annually. This will reduce the University’s total greenhouse gas emissions by about 5% (equivalent to taking 1,700 gasoline cars off the road) contributing to the University’s carbon reduction goals.

This new project will focus on coordinating various equipment in the building to work in a more coordinated manner to reduce the amount of unnecessary simultaneous heating and cooling making the building more efficient. Buildings with the newer controls will be programmed more efficiently based on updated building use information. Fifteen buildings have been targeted for a variety of improvements across the River and Medical Campuses.


Project Timeline

ESS applied to NYSERDA’s competitive program in late summer 2023 and was quickly awarded in the fall. The official project began in January of 2024 and the award stipulates that construction must be finished by December 31, 2025 for the University to receive the full award amount. NYSERDA will conduct measurement & verification to determine project energy savings and emissions reduction benefits.

ESS is currently working on upgrades at Rush Rhees Library and are putting plans in place to work on Wilson Commons, Ambulatory Care Facility, Strong Memorial Hospital Access Center and Lobby, and S-Wing and GG-Wing at the School of Medicine and Dentistry (see map below for location details). They’ve hired two consultants to assist with the various projects under the broader umbrella of energy efficiency upgrades supported by the award and will be putting out a bid for control systems contractors.

Over their lifetime all projects combined are anticipated to reduce the University’s carbon footprint by around eight percent.

“It’s a really great project,” Energy Engineer Tim Vann shared. “It’s helping us modernize our buildings, save energy, and reduce our carbon footprint. NYSERDA’s funding was instrumental in moving the project forward.”




Written by Sarah Woodams ‘24(T5)

Photo by J. Adam Fenster / University of Rochester