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J-Mac residence hall earns Energy Star certification

Johnson-McFarlane, we’re going make you a star. An Energy Star, that is.

The University of Denver’s three-year overhaul and energy upgrade at Johnson-McFarlane residence hall — commonly known as J-Mac — has earned the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star certification, placing the facility in the top 25 percent of college residence halls nationwide.

Buildings that earn the certification typically use an average of 35 percent less energy and release 35 percent less carbon dioxide.

“Through this achievement, we have demonstrated our commitment to environmental sustainability while also lowering energy costs,” says Christy Cerrone, assistant director and sustainability coordinator for DU Housing and Residential Education.

DU Energy Engineer Tom McGee says the award is the culmination of years of work.

As the hall was renovated, McGee says, DU looked for ways to include the best products available and to leverage rebates and other special programs. At every turn, conservation was a major goal as DU moves forward to its goal of becoming carbon neutral, McGee says.

“Energy conservation is where you want to start and do everything you can,” McGee says. “Efficiency is a key.”

The University replaced existing windows with better insulated windows, upgraded the heating system, installed more efficient hot water exchangers, upgraded lighting and painted the roof white to better reflect summertime sun.

While DU is home to several LEED gold-standard buildings, the Energy Star program looks at internal efficiency rather than building standards. It’s a different standard, and McGee says that some buildings built to LEED standards might not qualify for Energy Star certification.

The EPA Energy Star program measures buildings against similar facilities nationwide. The program was instituted in 1992 as a voluntary partnership to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency.

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