Medical Center Energy Efficiency Upgrade
INITIATIVE NAME Medical Center Energy Efficiency Upgrade
UNIVERSITY University Of California San Francisco
TAGS sustainablility
CONTACT Living Green Ucsf <>


As UCSF works toward its goal of reducing carbon emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, many of the strategies to reduce energy use, especially heating/cooling mechanical retrofits, happen behind the scenes, invisible to staff and visitors. This is true of one of UCSF’s most recent energy efficiency upgrade project at the UCSF Medical Center Clinical Labs, which will save energy, reduce carbon emissions, and in the long run, save UCSF over $100,000/year.


While the details around HVAC, variable frequency drives, and pumps might be a bore to the average reader, the bottom line return on investment is impressive.  With a project cost of approximately $190,000, an annual savings of $106,000/year, and a PGE rebate of $84,590, the payback with incentives is only one year.  This approach might not have as quick a payback in a traditional office setting, but in a lab running 24/7, the numbers simply made sense. 

For those interested in the details, read on.

UCSF Medical Center Clinical Labs occupies 39,230 square feet at China Basin on the 2nd floor of the Berry Street building in Suite 290.  The labs HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) systems run 24/7 to provide heating, ventilation, and cooling to approximately 27,000 square feet of lab space within Suite 290.  Per the lease agreement, the medical center is responsible for maintenance, repairs, and utilities to run the HVAC equipment. 

Due to high utility bills for the lab, along with complaints about lab temperature from staff, Bill Tarangioli, Facilities Manager, UCSF Office of Real Estate Services,realized some changes were needed.  Bill asked Medical Center, Design & Construction for assistance to re-commission the HVAC system and to explore the possibility of lowering the lab air exchanges. 

Suhki Sandhu, Director (Medical Center, Design & Construction), determined that this would be a cost effective project and engaged the consulting firm ARUP to confirm the feasibility of the project concept and to estimate the expected savings from re-commissioning the HVAC system, reducing the air change rate, and installing variable frequency drives (VFD) on two hot water pumps. 


The Medical Center and Real Estate Services worked together, holding meetings with the landlord, EH&S, and Clinical Lab managers to put together a scope of work and schedule that would satisfy everyone in this busy lab.  Once the details were worked out, the contractors did their work.  The final summary of savings showed an annual savings of $106,000 per year.  With a project cost of approximately $190,000, and a PGE rebate of $84,590, the payback with incentives will be about one year.