Space Utilization Software Saves Money

New energy-saving opportunities have been identified with the help of course scheduling/utilization software, as referenced in President Les Wong’s recent e-mail to employees and this week’s announcement of reduced hours for Jamrich Hall. 

The NMU Space Utilization Committee used the software to monitor when and where courses are held across campus and recommended two plans for maximizing facility use, particularly during evening and weekend hours. The combined efforts will save the university about $37,000 over the winter 2010 semester.

One recommendation was priority scheduling, which concentrates classes in certain building areas to reduce mechanical system operation and increase efficiency.  

“For example, in Jamrich Hall, there are eight different mechanical zones,” said Jim Thams (Engineering and Planning). “Rather than have classes scattered throughout, we found that we could focus on a couple of zones and substantially reduce the run time for the building’s mechanical systems because they only need to operate in the areas where classes are held. We’ve been able to implement priority scheduling for evening courses in Jamrich, Thomas Fine Arts and the McClintock Building.”

The committee’s second recommendation was consolidated scheduling, which limits Friday and weekend classes to the core buildings of West Science, New Science and the Learning Resources Center to reduce operational costs during non-peak hours.

“Each of those facilities has established activities, such as the animal laboratories in New Science, that prevent us from reducing the run time on the mechanical systems,” added Thams. “So classes from other buildings have been relocated there as a way to save on energy costs. This works on weekends because there are so few classes, but there were too many evening classes to make it an option during the week.

“None of this would have been possible without the efforts of Mike Truscott (Registration and Scheduling), who had to make the scheduling adjustments to accommodate these changes, and Cheryl LaJoye (Plant Operations), who programs the mechanical systems to coincide with the class schedules.”

Through consolidated scheduling, NMU is able to reduce heating and lighting in Jamrich Hall by closing it from Friday afternoon through early Monday morning. The only exceptions are Campus Cinema showings in room 102 on Saturday and Sunday evenings and special events that can’t be accommodated elsewhere.


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Updated: February 4, 2010

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