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Advanced engineering cutting Lafferre Hall energy costs

Supporting the increasingly popular view that environmentalism is good business, energy conservationists have saved about $55,000 since installing advanced remote sensing technology in a portion of Mizzou Engineering’s Lafferre Hall six months ago.

“Remote sensing and control has progressed dramatically during the last five to 10 years, and is being used for all sorts of space-based monitoring for defense, environmental, and engineering applications,” said CoE Research Associate Professor Robert Reed, who is collaborating with MU’s energy management office on a new pollution prevention intern program. “This is the land-based equivalent.”

“Remote sensing and control has progressed dramatically during the last five to 10 years…”—Robert Reed

Just before work began last fall on Lafferre Hall’s $20.9 million renovation, MU Energy Management technicians finished installing or connecting existing occupancy sensors to new computerized controllers in the building’s west and northeast wings. By paving the way for more efficient lighting, cooling and heating in those areas, the new system probably will reduce Lafferre’s energy costs by more than $100,000 annually, said Paul Coleman, a manager for MU’s campus facilities energy management department.

The system saves energy by feeding information on whether a room is occupied to a computer that controls its heating and cooling. If the area is unoccupied, not only does the computer automatically dim or turn off the lights but it also cuts back on the room’s heating or air conditioning, Coleman said.

“And that’s a huge savings,” Coleman said.

MU’s energy management department installed Lafferre Hall’s remote sensing equipment as part of an ongoing energy conservation program launched by the campus in 1990, he said. The Lafferre Hall project’s cost—roughly $300,000—probably will be repaid through energy cost savings within three years, Coleman said.

MU’s energy conservation program has reduced campus energy costs by $28 million since its inception, he said.

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