Achieving Reduction in Laboratory Energy Consumption Through Low-Cost Motion and Sash Height (MASH) Alarms on Fume Hoods

Johnathan Kongoletos, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Jennifer Ballew, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Laboratory spaces consume five times more energy per square foot than ordinary office space, of which the energy consumption of the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system can account for 60%. This is largely due to the ventilation required for laboratories and their 100% outside air systems. The ventilation serves to exhaust contaminants from the workspace through fume hoods to maintain human safety. However, a single fume hood left open has the potential to vent the annual energy consumption of 3.5 average U.S. single family homes. To target open and unattended fume hoods, the MIT Laboratory Energy Assessment Center has been able to build and develop a low-cost Motion and Sash Height (MASH) alarm. Where past literature has shown that monthly feedback helps drive a 26% reduction in average sash heights, the MASH alarms help drive a 76% decrease in the average sash height, saving a representational average of 237 cubic feet per minute per hood for vertical fume hoods equipped with variable air volume controls. Within the Boston climate, the resultant energy savings are nearly equivalent to the average site energy consumed by an average U.S. home.

Learning Objectives

  • Describe the implications of a combined audiovisual system for decreasing sash hood heights;
  • Evaluate the impacts of said system on energy use in a selection of U.S. climates;
  • Analyze the baseline, tested, and enduring effects of short term sash hood reminders; and
  • Understand the importance of an interactive building.


John Kongoletos, a Certified Energy Manager and PhD candidate in the Building Technology Group at MIT, researches energy utilization and energy reduction strategies within buildings. With the support of the Tata Center at MIT, his primary research looks at cost-effective means to improve thermal comfort in the desert climates of India, but he also assists the Laboratory Energy Assessment Center in improving energy utilization in labs.

Jennifer Ballew serves as the Green Labs Program Coordinator for MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She holds degrees in Biochemistry and Environmental Science, which combined with her 15+ years of working in academic, startup and industrial laboratories ensures that she is well versed in the ways that laboratories operate and the ways in which they can be made more sustainable. Green Labs at MIT serves to bridge the knowledge gap between laboratory users and the administrative departments that serve them, ensuring that scientists have the knowledge, tools and resources to make smart choices about saving energy and reducing waste.


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