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Using Campus Buildings as a Live Learning Tool

With Trane’s Virtual Living Learning Lab (VL3™), students learn how to apply data to decision making.

What if, by upgrading HVAC infrastructure and building automation, your campus buildings also became a live learning tool for students? Trane’s Virtual Living Learning Lab (VL3™) is making it happen.

The recent influx of funding for campus upgrades, including the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), has made it possible for many higher education institutions to move forward with major projects aimed at reducing their buildings’ fossil fuel energy use. Upgrading aging HVAC infrastructure can provide significant sustainability and cost benefits due to the higher energy efficiency of newer equipment. The benefits are even greater when a building automation system (BAS) is included. Some experts say BAS can improve energy efficiency by up to 40% because of the improved data, analytics and control.1

Trane's Virtual Living Learning Lab

Trane’s VL3™ turns campus buildings into virtual living learning labs. Students can access live data to hone their analytical skills while developing an understanding of how much energy buildings consume—and how building operators and users can curb emissions.

Trane can also turn BAS into an educational opportunity when campus buildings are managed through Tracer® Ensemble®. The VL3 gives students access to user interfaces without being able to disturb the facility setup. Essentially, every square foot of the connected campus becomes the basis for reality-based learning. It is a relevant and engaging way for students to gain technical skills and practice analytical thinking.

The Virtual Living Learning Lab

The VL3 provides a firsthand view into the energy dynamics that are happening within campus buildings. Students in higher education are deeply concerned about climate change and the state of the planet that will be theirs to deal with. The VL3 allows students to dig deeper into sustainability by understanding how much energy their campus buildings consume, external and internal factors that affect that use and, most importantly, how even simple operational changes can lower a building’s energy use and carbon impact. It makes learning highly engaging and meaningful.

Employment Advantages

Data drives decision making in virtually every sector today. As a global sustainability company, Trane is a prime example of the way digital technology can transform an industry. Our building automation system enables buildings to manage energy use much more effectively, and the VL3 gives students access to the same technology tool that is used by decision makers, from facility managers to finance directors to environmental officers. It helps build the analytical thinking skills that are almost universally valued by employers.

The VL3 has potential applications within a wide range of courses in both two- and four-year higher education, as well as advanced high school science and engineering classes. Obvious opportunities exist within technical training programs for HVAC system design, installation or management. However, the access to live data and energy focus means the VL3 can also bring hands-on learning to curricula in STEM, analytics, environmental studies and more.

Trane’s VL3 means the Tracer Ensemble BAS can have dual roles, as both energy management and educational tools. It’s a bonus for educators that are tasked to inspire the next generation of innovators and problem solvers. 


1 Project Drawdown, Building Automation Systems,

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