Sustainability and Resiliency

Energy Conservation Initiative

Brown’s Energy Conservation Initiative has resulted in significant financial, energy and emissions savings.

Through a variety of methods including metering, real-time energy performance monitoring and ongoing commissioning, operations staff are able to continually maintain equipment and identify opportunities for efficiency. A key tool is a monitoring system that alerts the energy engineering staff when equipment is improperly operating, enabling staff to quickly fix issues and ensure that the campus is running as smoothly and efficiently as possible. 

Another important energy efficiency approach is the incorporation of energy standards into Brown’s formal building standards to ensure the University invests in energy-efficient equipment, employs sustainable construction practices and incorporates energy management during every step of the building process.

$50 Million+

Invested in ECI projects since 2008


Brown has been installing Light Emitting Diode (LED) lighting for over 10 years, but recent technology and pricing developments have allowed an acceleration of retrofits across campus. In 2020 Brown converted lighting across campus to LED, achieving more than 90% campus conversion. The switch to LEDs saves half of the electricity needed for campus lighting and reduces maintenance costs.

Heat recovery chillers installed at the MacMillan Hall laboratory building produce chilled water and hot water at the same time, cutting energy requirements. This has allowed Brown to remove two large gas fired boilers and reduce the use of larger chillers during the winter.

At the BioMed Complex a new run-around heat recovery loop pulls heat (or cooling in summer) from the exhaust air stream and returns it to the supply fans. This effort is expected to save over 100,000 therms of gas and 250,000 kWH of electricity annually.

Brown has recently ramped up its efforts to use remote monitoring and controls and associated data to find opportunities for energy savings. These monitoring systems, called building automation systems (BAS), are able to monitor heating, ventilation and air cooling equipment, lighting and other systems in real time, providing insights into equipment performance and energy usage.

BAS data are now available in over 80% of Brown's buildings, helping to cut energy consumption and associated greenhouse gas emissions.

Brown implemented building automation systems projects to reduce ventilation air in laboratories when each lab is not occupied. These projects save nearly 30,000 therms and 160,000 kWH annually, while enhancing lab safety through improved monitoring. Brown has also published laboratory ventilation standards to ensure all lab renovations use the most efficient fume hoods available.