Volume 4, Issue 9 (October 2007)
Energy Savings Resulting from Building Envelope Upgrades in Mid-Rise Construction—A Case Study
The Bice House Dormitory on the campus “Grounds” of the University of Virginia was constructed in the mid-1970s as a dormitory for the nursing school. The building was an eight-story, concrete framed, residential facility with brick veneer cladding over steel stud framing systems. After more than 25 years of service, deficiencies in the brick façade, coupled with inadequate exterior wall framing, required removal and replacement of the entire exterior wall system from the interior drywall, up to and including the brick veneer. As part of the exterior wall replacement, window systems and insulation materials were upgraded. The building was also refitted with an air barrier system over the new exterior gypsum sheathing. Because existing individual packaged terminal air conditioning units were temporarily removed and reinstalled after renovation, the heating and cooling systems for the building remained unchanged, providing a unique opportunity to measure the true energy savings realized in a building strictly as a result of upgrading the building envelope. When the total heating and cooling costs after the first two full years of service were compared to the costs from years prior to the renovation (normalized for the temperature variations), a distinct reduction in energy costs were recognized from the improvements made during the renovation. The yearly energy consumption for the building was reduced by roughly 14 %, yielding a savings of roughly $12,800 per year based on current energy costs. Based on a payback period method of analysis, the improvements will have paid for themselves in roughly 14 years.