Project Overview

In an effort to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from its buildings, the Harvard Medical School (HMS) Facilities Team used Harvard’s Green Revolving Fund to invest in three energy conservation measures (ECMs) at the Tosteson Medical Education Center (TMEC). These ECMs are expected to reduce the building’s estimated GHG emissions by 660 metric tons carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCDE) annually.

Project Goals

  • Increase Energy Savings
  • Reduce GHG Emissions
  • Replace old Pneumatic Controls with updated Direct Digital Controls (DDCs)
  • Install new Variable Frequency Drives (VFDs) to reduce unnecessary airflow
  • Re-commissioning existing HVAC System


  • Estimated Electricity Usage Reduction: 176,000 kWh
  • Estimated Chilled Water Usage Reduction: 461,000 Ton-Hours
  • Estimated Steam Usage Reduction : 5,142 Klb.
  • Estimated Annual Utility Savings:  $330,530.68 Anticipated GHG Emissions Reduction: 660 MTCDE

Pre-Project Considerations

Heating and cooling buildings accounts for 40% of Harvard University’s total GHG emissions. Unlike new buildings, which are designed to be energy-efficient per Harvard’s Green Building Standards, older existing buildings have unique challenges when it comes to efforts to conserve energy, reduce costs, and increase equipment reliability. Based on an initial assessment of the building, a list of projects focused on energy efficiency was created and an implementation plan was developed. This case study focuses on three ECMs completed through June 2014.

The Project Process

HMS Energy Specialist Don Gillis and the HMS Facilities Team identified TMEC’s core areas for improvement, developed a plan, and selected contractors to implement the projects. In a kickoff meeting, Don met with managers of departments housed in the building to notify them of the construction work that would be taking place. The project team used a variety of tools and resources, including a floor plan, information packets, and how-to guides, to engage and inform the project team and building occupants throughout the project. All project work was done at night to avoid inconveniencing students and faculty. The Facilities Team posted and distributed reminders alerting those who stayed in the building after hours that construction would be occurring during those times.

Lessons Learned

Of the three ECMs, the DDC conversions and Air Handler VFD upgrades are anticipated to have the biggest impact lowering GHG emissions and reducing electricity. The addition of occupancy schedules to the Direct Digital Control System reduces electrical usage and the DDC provides instantaneous updates on abnormalities in the system. These abnormalities can easily be monitored and corrected to avoid extended periods of using excessive energy. Based on the success of these ECMs, the HMS Facilities Team anticipates implementing additional energy and GHG saving projects that were identified during the Re-Commissioning project within TMEC.

Contact Information:

Jennifer Stacy
Sustainability Manager
Office for Sustainability
46 Blackstone Street
Cambridge, MA 02139

Office Phone: 617-496-1278