Fume Hood Vacuum Systems and Energy Savings

Every building at WUSM is supported by dedicated Facilities Management Technicians (FMT’s) who get to know the specific equipment that supports the university community and its mission. A recent suggestion related to the central vacuum pump systems from Steve Lawrence, in Operations and Facilities Management Department has us looking for ways to communicate with our research lab technicians to request their assistance to extend equipment life, save electricity and save water.

A vacuum is an air stream with a negative pressure that is created and controlled by a central vacuum pump system. WUSM’s research lab buildings have central systems that use significant amounts electricity and water to provide vacuum hoses in fume hoods and biosafety cabinets. Each point of use has a valve that can be shut off in order to allow the vacuum system to “back down” and begin to use less electricity and water.

In a study to quantify the electricity used by a vacuum system, Jim Jackson of Capital Projects, and Steve Lawrence, a Facilities Management Technician, attached a temporary electric meter that recorded the energy used by one vacuum system. They discovered that in a 7 day period, the vacuum system used 2,800 kWh of electricity which costs almost $225 every week. In addition, this liquid ring-type vacuum pump consumes 1 gallon of water per minute.

Please help to extend the life of the equipment, as well as save energy and water, by taking the following actions in your lab when the equipment is not in use:

  • Close vacuum valves in fume hoods and biosafety cabinets
  • Turn off heat blocks
  • Close hood sashes
  • Turn off lights
  • Turn off water and call about drips