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UCD Battle of the Buildings

As the second largest third level institution in Ireland, with around 30,000 students and staff, UCD is easily one of the largest energy consumers in South Dublin. As a public sector organisation and third level institution where teaching and research takes place, UCD has an immense role to play in the global effort to reduce carbon emissions and tackle climate change. In terms of public sector energy efficiency targets, the National Energy Efficiency Action Plan requires a 33% reduction compared to a baseline for 2006-2008. So, how is UCD performing? Inspired by NUIG Battle of the Buildings ( and wanting to gain an understanding of how the campus spent energy last year, I wanted to look at the individual buildings on the UCD Belfield campus.

Building energy and floor area data was kindly provided by UCD Estates from the Cylon Building Management System (BMS). UCD was actually the first university in Ireland to install an energy monitoring and BMS system in its buildings! I took this data and it was a simple matter to use python to find the total spend by each building for 2018 and then normalise by the floor area of each building to get the Energy Use Intensity (EUI) value which is measured in kWh/m2/year. I thought a really nice way of showing these results would be in an “energy map” with buildings coloured based on their EUI value. ArcGIS software allowed me to create such a map with vector data of the buildings on the UCD Campus kindly provided by Ordnance Survey Ireland. The resulting energy map is illustrated above.

I used a colour scheme that corresponds with the Irish BER rating system. The BER certificate indicates a building’s energy performance and is similar to the energy label for household appliances. Two buildings stand out in red – the Computer Centre and the Daedalus building. These buildings host the university data centre (which require significant cooling and are notorious electricity consumers) and various other IT & server loads creating outliers. Other higher than average consumers include Science South and Science East which feature significant lab equipment and the SLSS featuring the pool which is another large energy consumer. This varied use of the buildings means that comparisons have to be made carefully. It is hoped that results like this can be used to help identify the buildings with the best retrofit potential

There is a lot of work to be extended from this. Perhaps, most importantly, it will be interesting to see how these values have changed over time. Data exists for some buildings from 2007. Hopefully, these results would show the impacts of the many retrofits and upgrades that have been completed by UCD and Estates over this time and show that UCD is well on track towards our 2020 targets. For further dissemination, a 3D interactive dashboard could be a very interesting project. Other future work includes investigating any correlation between the EUI and meta data of the buildings such as age, construction and type. Please get in touch if you have any thoughts or suggestions based on this work!

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