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Wednesday 6 October 2021 1:57pm

Energy Efficiency Advisor Kelly Li reviewing energy use data image
University of Otago Energy Efficiency Advisor Kelly Li reviewing building energy use data.

A desire to better use its existing buildings, rather than simply replacing them, is behind the University of Otago's use of an Energy Efficiency and ICT Analytics programme.

The University is the first in the country to incorporate an Artificial Intelligence (AI) building analytics system into some of its main buildings. It operates one of the largest and most diverse Building Management Systems (BMS) in Australasia, with more than 60,000 individual control points and BMS controllers in the larger facilities on campus. The University's buildings are incredibly diverse ranging from historical buildings, to leading-edge teaching facilities.

Property Services Director Dean Macaulay says the University is using technology to save energy cost and usage, while reducing its carbon footprint.

“We are developing smart buildings, which help inform better use of heating, lighting and ventilation.

“This has been a highly successful project for the University, it has been swiftly implemented and we are already seeing the benefits of better understanding energy usage in some of our key buildings.”

The project budget is $1.2 million, but Mr Macaulay says the total cost of the project is currently tracking under this figure.

“Property Services is committed to helping the University become a community and national leader in terms of energy efficiency and power saving,” Mr Macaulay says.

Project Manager Ria van den Berg says Canadian energy management company CopperTree Analytics was chosen to supply the University's data analytics solution.

She says the University is using CopperTree's Kaizen Fault Detection and Diagnostics System.

“The solution will make it much easier for the University to gain insights into its buildings energy use, set targets for improvement, identify areas of focus, and track progress and achievements.

“Information is power, this project has given University staff the power to increase energy efficiency through using building management and other systems information to create a tool to help the University save energy and reach its sustainability goals,” Mrs van den Berg says.

Manager, Energy and Building Controls Shane Jenkins who argued for the use of such a system says he's already seeing the benefits of reduced energy use.

“With the new energy management system we can keep a close watch on where there are spikes or anomalies in usage, and act quickly to reduce energy use.”

Mr Jenkins says the project aims to reduce building energy related costs by around 16 per cent and support the University's sustainability goals.

The University of Otago was the first New Zealand university to sign the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This programme is linked to four of the University's Operations Group's Strategic Priorities namely:

  • 2.3 Smart Buildings
  • 5.2 Green Impact
  • 5.5 Green Building Design
  • 5.6 Zero Carbon Plan Future State

Initial University buildings included in the Energy Efficiency Analytics programme are:

  • The Mellor Labs
  • Dental School
  • Information Services building
  • William James building
  • School of Business
  • St David II building
  • Lindo Ferguson building

“More buildings will be brought into the programme over time and the benefits for the University and the environment will continue to grow,” Mr Jenkins says.

For more information, please contact:

Dean Macaulay
Property Services
University of Otago
Tel +64 3 479 8016

Ria van den Berg
Project Manager
IT Projects
University of Otago

Shane Jenkins
Manager, Energy and Building Controls
University of Otago
Tel +64 3 479 8001

Kerry Dohig
Communications Adviser
University of Otago
Mob +64 27 232 2047

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