Fairfield University installs 'clean energy' technology that puts power back on the grid



Image: Loyola HallFairfield University recently installed technology in a residence hall elevator that will produce 'clean energy.' Part of a pilot project, it is the first campus elevator to be retrofitted with the device, an OVF 30 Regenerative Converter.

The project is part of a larger effort by the university to increase sustainability projects while reducing the campus's carbon footprint.

The way the Regenerative Converter works is relatively simple.

"When an elevator moves in a down direction with a full load of passengers, it is actually creating energy," said Jonathan F. Lewie, senior account manager for the Otis Elevator Company, which installed the technology. "With a regenerative drive, such as the OVF 30, this clean energy can be directed back into the building's power grid and used by other building systems."

Upon completion, the revamped elevator, located in Loyola Hall, will be more efficient and cost less to operate, according to Joseph M. Bouchard, the university's director of environmental health and safety and fire marshall. The elevator will generate about 20 to 30% of its own electricity through mechanical braking energy. Better yet, elevator energy consumption is decreased by 20% using the regenerated energy that was previously wasted and dissipated as heat.

"It is smart technology," Bouchard said. "Motion creates electricity, and that in turn goes into the grid."

Otis has been installing the technology for a short period of time, mostly in high-rise buildings - defined as seven stories or higher. Loyola Hall is four stories tall, but its hardy, often utilized elevator was seen as a good fit for the project.

The university's numerous eco-friendly projects include efforts to reduce energy consumption in buildings with green products such as the elevator converter, a product that supports Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) green building initiatives.            

The OVF 30 Regenerative Converter, which has a small footprint, can lead to heat emissions from elevator machine rooms being reduced by as much as 40%. By placing the created energy back into the building, heating, ventilating and air conditioning demands are also reduced. Upon completion, the university will receive a rebate in the amount of $4,125 from a UI rebate program for installing the environmentally friendly technology.

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on August 11, 2010

Vol. 43, No. 18