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U Houston Looks To Save Money, Improve Air Quality with HVAC Optimization

The University of Houston is developing a ventilation optimization program to improve air quality and energy efficiency in its new health and biomedical science center.

Construction of the HBSC began in November 2010.  It is a 167,000-square-foot building " designed to facilitate collaboration across neuropsychology and neuroscience, measurement and statistics, biology and biochemistry, biomedical engineering, pharmacy, optometry, computer science and computational physiology," according to information released by the university.

The new program, projected by the university to save $239,270 annually, will be based on Aircuity's OptiNet ventilation control system.

The OptiNet system will take samples of air from throughout the facility and measure them with a centralized suite of sensors. The information is then used to control ventilation rates. The central suite of sensors is designed to lower maintenance and calibration costs by using fewer sensors than traditional systems.

The system, to be installed in the building's office, classroom, ambulatory surgery suite, vivarium, and laser center, will measure room temperature, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and other airborne particulates.

As part of its larger sustainability efforts, the university is a member of the Association of Advancement for Sustainability in Higher Education. The university uses AASHE's Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating system, a self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure sustainability efforts, to share information and create benchmarks for future efforts. AASHE-STARS focuses on nine categories:

  • Administration;
  • Climate change and energy;
  • Food and recycling;
  • Green building;
  • Student involvement;
  • Transportation;
  • Endowment transparency;
  • Investment property; and
  • Shareholder engagement.

More information about the University of Houston's sustainability efforts is available at More information about OptiNet is available at Visit for more information about AASHE.

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is contributing editor for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe. He can be reached at [email protected].

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