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CNM Shines as a PNM Energy Efficiency Star Award Winner

Through energy efficiency improvements on existing buildings in 2018, CNM saved enough energy to power 140 homes for a year.
CNM Shines as a PNM Energy Efficiency Star Award Winner
CNM's Science Laboratory Building, which is lit up by energy efficient LED lighting.

Nov 28, 2018

Relatively small investments in energy efficiency can produce astonishing results, as CNM learned this week when it won a PNM Energy Efficiency Star Award through PNM’s Building Tune-Up Retro-commissioning program.

Through a variety of efforts stemming from PNM’s Building Tune-Up program, CNM will save more energy and money than any other participating institution in New Mexico. “CNM contributed to 943,869 kilowatt hours of savings, enough energy to power 140 homes for a year, and equivalent to removing 511 metric tons of carbon dioxide from the air…” PNM said in its award letter.

PNM also estimated that CNM will save $94,400 in energy costs this year. 

“Retro-commissioning is about doing little things on existing buildings that make a huge difference,” says Molly Blumhoefer, CNM’s Sustainability Project Manager. “These types of programs help drive our policies in a more sustainable direction. And that’s a really big deal.”

Institutions like CNM that participated in this year’s Building Tune-Up Retro-commissioning program had existing buildings examined and measured for energy efficiency. The process identifies areas for energy saving improvements that can be addressed through relatively small projects that cost $5,000 or less.

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The first floor of the Science Laboratory Building on Main Campus, which leverages LED lighting to save energy.
Some of the recommendations for improvements at CNM included: adjusting HVAC controls for optimal performance, readjusting the temperature ranges for thermostats, automatically putting computers in sleep mode after 20 minutes of non-use and shutting them off after two hours of non-use, replacing inefficient lighting with LED lights, installing window film and occupancy lighting sensors, automatically lowering thermostats overnight, and more.

The evaluations and recommendations are made by PNM’s local contractors that specialize in sustainability and building performance. “It gets really technical – they look at mechanical and electrical equipment and determine whether everything is programmed correctly,” Blumhoefer said. “They’re looking at controls in the background, thermostat settings, HVAC performance and fan speeds, seals on windows and doors, how to better insulate...”

The contractors make recommendations for improvements. “Some we can afford and some we can’t. If we can’t afford something right now, we will consider it in the future,” she said.

By participating in this program, Molly added, “we’re also supporting local businesses that are hired by PNM to perform this work. Then we report back to PNM on what recommendations we implemented. PNM has a method for calculating how many kilowatt hours we’ve saved by implementing certain efforts.”

And there’s another major benefit to participating in the program.

“We use this as part of our Campus as a Living Lab program,” Molly says. “A lot of our faculty and students in (the School of Applied Technologies) are interested in these retro-commissioning fields. They observe and learn from these professional contractors.”

Another return on a wise investment.