Sustainability Update: January 2012

A New Building Management System for the Black Building

January 31, 2012

Dear CUMC Community:

Several initiatives are under way related to energy management, recycling and sustainability at CUMC. All of these initiatives are important to our commitment to environmental sustainability, although some are more visible than others. This message is part of an on-going series of e-mail communiqués from Facilities Management that are intended to share information about these initiatives and provide you with an opportunity to offer your suggestions and assistance in advancing our efforts at the medical center.

In This Issue: A New Building Management System for the Black Building

In order to provide all the necessary services for keeping a building operational and to maintain tenant comfort, a building requires some form of mechanical and electrical services. These services have to be controlled to ensure, for example, that there is adequate hot water for sinks or that heating and cooling are provided to ensure comfortable and safe conditions. A Building Management System provides, controls and optimizes these services.

In July 2010, Columbia University Medical Center received an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant to install a building management system within the William Black Building. This award through the federal stimulus program worked to provide critical funding to help local governments, hospitals and non-profit agencies reduce their energy costs while helping New York reduce its overall energy consumption and impact on the environment.

Completed in December of 2011, the Black Building’s new computer-based control system controls and monitors the building’s mechanical and electrical equipment, such as air conditioning, chiller operation, heating, or hot water. During the installation, new digital sensors were placed throughout mechanical systems to take temperatures and pressures in order to ensure the services supplied to the building are efficient and comfortable for tenants. There was also a detailed programming sequence of operations that was designed, written and optimized specifically for the Black Building.

You will not notice these sensors in your space or see the computer system running these algorithms, but you will feel a difference in the comfort and control of the building. The new systems should allow for better temperature control with less energy use. For example, new sensors and controls will now allow the chillers to take advantage of a cooler outside air temperature to create chilled water to maintain temperature within the building instead of turning on motors to mechanically create it for the air handling units that heat and cool your spaces.

CUMC Facilities will continue to optimize and improve this system as the year progress, but this is a significant step in our pursuit for improved energy efficiency at CUMC. The building management system will contribute towards our goal of 30 percent greenhouse gas reduction by 2025 by reducing CUMC’s carbon footprint by 1,000 metric tons. This is 6 percent of our 30 percent reduction and equivalent to removing 178 passenger vehicles from the road.

We welcome your feedback and participation in our energy and sustainability initiatives. If you have suggestions or ideas, please feel free to contact our energy and sustainability department at

Stay tuned for upcoming energy and sustainability updates from Facilities Management.


Amador Centeno

Vice President of Facilities

Columbia University Medical Center

To provide feedback or suggest sustainability or energy efficiency ideas, email:


Energy & Sustainability