James Ball (M.E.M. ‘16): The academic value of Yale’s carbon charge experiment

April 19, 2016
In a historical first, Yale University is charging the administration of 20 buildings on campus for their carbon emissions. These 20 buildings are part of the pilot version of the Yale Carbon Charge, the first internal carbon charge program on a university campus. Yale’s president, Peter Salovey, when announcing the launch of the program, explained that it originated from an interest “in using our campus as a living laboratory for applied research on global challenges such as climate change.” Nowhere on campus is this research more alive than in Kroon Hall.
Kroon Hall is the most energy efficient building on Yale’s campus, completed in 2009 as a new home for the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (F&ES). During its design and construction, Kroon Hall was internationally recognized for its energy efficiency. After the first year of using the building, the F&ES administration worked with the Yale Office of Facilities to recalibrate the building’s systems in order to keep energy use at and below the level that the building’s energy model predicted. In 2015, the building’s energy use increased higher than the energy model due to a variety of building system challenges.  As these issues were uncovered, the Facilities office worked with F&ES administrators to explore solutions to technical challenges including the functioning of the building’s air handler units and heat pumps.
As these efforts were underway, the Yale Carbon Charge incentivized students and faculty to partner with F&ES Administrators to better understand and improve the building’s energy use, employing Kroon’s complex engineering to create opportunities for learning. These collective efforts have paid off, and since December 2015 Kroon Hall’s energy use has already been reduced by 7 percent relative to 2015. As F&ES students and administration work on their own reduction of carbon, they are also looking beyond Kroon Hall to see how they can help other buildings reduce their emissions.
Visit the School of Forestry & Environmental Studies’ website to read the full article.