University Science Hall Receives HVAC and Lighting Makeover

F.W. Olin Science Hall Receives HVAC and lighting make-over.

F.W. Olin Science Hall Receives HVAC and lighting make-over.

Founded in 1831, Denison University in Granville, Ohio, is one of the earliest colleges to be established in the old “Northwest Territory,” the area west of the Allegheny Mountains and north of the Ohio River in central United States.

Recently, the university upgraded the F.W. Olin Science Hall’s HVAC and lighting systems to make them more efficient and to improve student and faculty comfort.

The project presented several challenges. Since the building had been recently renovated, it was essential that the work not damage or compromise the interior. As a science building, special attention needed to be paid to air quality and consistency to ensure that lab experiments could be performed reliably. And finally, the timeline was tight because the work had to be completed between the spring and fall semesters, and around summer research programs.

Choosing a trusted partner

To meet these challenges, Denison turned to Schneider Electric. The university had been working with Schneider Electric for several years, and was already using the company’s SmartStruxure solution building management system (BMS) to monitor and control energy use over most of the campus. Denison University was one of the first sites to install SmartStruxure solution when it was introduced.

The integrated solution includes Enterprise Server and WorkStation Professional software for campus-wide system operation. Buildings have at least one Automation Server with TAC Xenta field controllers connected to HVAC equipment, including air handling units, boilers, chillers, cooling towers, variable air volume terminals and fan coil units. Some buildings that had Schneider Electric’s TAC I/NET legacy controls were migrated into the Enterprise Server to simplify day-to-day operations.

“Since we already had SmartStruxure solution on campus and our buildings’ DDC system needed upgrading, it made sense to work with Schneider Electric, especially when the wireless solution was proposed to help reduce costs and disruption in the occupied building,” said Denison University’s Director of Facility Services, Art Chonko.

The Schneider Electric team realized that wired systems alone would not work in this historical building. They proposed installing Multi-Purpose Managers (MPM) as wireless gateways to the campus-wide BMS. Because MPMs can communicate wirelessly with SmartStruxure solution, installation was quick and posed minimal disruption to the science hall’s operations. Together, these solutions proved to be the right combination for Denison’s building management needs.

Schneider Electric coordinated with the Denison team to identify critical labs and equipment that required special protection and/or environmental conditions. The project team worked closely with the mechanical contractor and facilities staff to work around the timing constraints.

A complete energy make-over

Denison’s goal was to incorporate as many improvements as their budget allowed and the architecture permitted. To accomplish this, Schneider Electric created a hybrid system of wireless and wired technology that improved performance of all of the HVAC and lighting systems in the science building.

Each room was equipped with digital HVAC controls to replace the existing TAC I/NET system that can be programmed for desired setpoints, along with occupancy sensors that activate and deactivate lighting, heating, and cooling based on whether or not the room is in use (except for certain lab rooms that are maintained at a constant temperature). Two-way heating and cooling valves combined with variable frequency drives on the heating and cooling pumps were installed to reduce electric consumption by operating as system demand requires.

Controllers are networked through MPM-UN2 wireless programmable controllers mounted in the ceiling of each room, which in turn communicate with an MPM-GW wireless control network gateway on each floor. Finally, the building is linked to the campus-wide SmartStruxure solution BMS, allowing remote monitoring and control of the HVAC and lighting systems.

Immediate and long-term HVAC and lighting savings

Denison University noticed results upon completion of the project at F.W. Olin Science Hall. The school reports that energy costs have dropped, and the Denison team has noticed that due to enhanced occupant comfort, productivity for both the faculty and students has also improved. What’s more, the facilities team uses the StruxureWare Energy Operation dashboard to view energy trends and reports, allowing them to be proactive regarding energy consumption issues.


Upgrading historical buildings is a challenge, and that challenge is multiplied when there is a short timeline for completion. By choosing Schneider Electric as a partner with a range of solutions willing to work closely with the school and the other contractors, Denison University was able to achieve an improvement in energy performance and occupant comfort.

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