Energy Conservation Accomplishments & Awards

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Plan Accomplishments 2018 – Present

The University, with support from a grant by the Crown family, developed a formal Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Plan for the period of FY2018 – FY2025 to accomplish the 20% reduction goal.  In order to achieve the 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2025, the plan identified five strategies. 

  1. Building Preventative Maintenance and Commissioning (PM + Cx): Investigate the top energy-consuming buildings on campus for operational improvement and energy conservation opportunities. Focus on the top 38 University buildings that are responsible for approximately 80 percent of the campus energy consumption. 
  2. Central Plant Efficiency Upgrades: Implement energy efficiency upgrades at the campus steam and chilled water plants. 
  3. Building-Level Capital Energy Efficiency Projects: Implement capital projects that are identified through the PM + Cx process. 
  4. Lighting Upgrades: Indoor and outdoor lighting upgrades around campus. 
  5. Off-Site Renewable Energy: Purchase renewable energy credits for off-site energy production. 

The University began implementing the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Plan in fiscal year 2018 and achieved the following results over the last two years.

  • Installed an Energy Management Information System (EMIS) in FY19 to support the process of self-assessment and continuous improvement in energy management. The EMIS is used to create public energy dashboards.
  • Implemented 23 projects that consist of 119 Energy Conservation Measures (ECMs) that are projected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by over 6%. Highlights of these efforts include::
    - Implemented preventative maintenance and commissioning (PM + Cx) projects in 15 buildings totaling 2.5 million square feet.
    - Completed a free cooling optimization project in the district cooling plant that reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 1,154 MT eCO2
    Retrofitted over 3,900 lighting fixtures with LED kits in exterior Poulsen® lights and three buildings projected to reduce greenhouse emissions by 636 MT eCO2
    - Hosted four sustainability interns who developed laboratory energy baselines and supported behavior change initiatives. Their responsibilities also included data analysis for “retro-commissioning lite,” a program to identify simple, low-cost initiatives to reduce energy consumption in campus buildings.
  • Awarded in the Mayor’s Leadership Circle by Retrofit Chicago for achieving at least a 20% reduction in energy at The Joe and Rika Mansueto Library and at The Joseph Regenstein Library.
  • Recognized by the ASHRAE Illinois Chapter for the energy efficiency efforts at Searle Chemistry Laboratory with an Excellence in Engineering Award and at the Gordon Center for Integrative Science.
  • Achieved ENERGY STAR Certification for Julius Rosenwald Hall and George C. Walker Museum
  • Implemented a “shut the sash” program at the Searle Chemistry Laboratory that used fume hood data collected by the building automation system to encourage positive behavior in laboratory users resulting in a 43% reduction in fume hood airflow.

Energy Conservation Accomplishments 2010 – 2017

In November 2016, the University published a Sustainability Plan Baseline Report that established a goal to reduce Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2025.  

From 2010 to 2017, UChicago implemented over 200 energy conservation measures to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.  Projects included LEED certification of facilities during new construction or major renovations, retro-commissioning of buildings, central utility plant optimization projects, lighting retrofits, and controls upgrades. 

  • Eighteen buildings have achieved LEED certification since 2010. In the process of achieving LEED certification, these buildings have implemented energy-efficient designs, furthering the GHG goals of the University. 
  • The University used ComEd’s retro-commissioning program to improve building system performance and identify low- or no-cost, short-payback energy conservation measures. In total, the University implemented 12 retro-commissioning projects resulting in an estimated $557,000 of annual avoided energy cost.
  • The University implemented several projects to improve the efficiency of the district heating plant, including projects to recover waste heat from boiler exhausts and blowdown, return hotter condensate from the buildings and install removable steam blanket insulation. 
  • The University implemented lighting retrofits and controls upgrades in 16 buildings and in exterior lights, saving over one million kilowatt-hours and over 630 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MT eCO2) per year.
  • Starting in 2011, several energy conservation projects were completed in Regenstein Library resulting in a 20% energy reduction. In 2018, Regenstein’s energy savings were recognized by receiving the Mayor’s Leadership Circle Award, and it is one of only six higher education buildings in the city of Chicago to win the award.   
  • In total, electrical and natural gas utilities awarded over $2 million in energy efficiency incentives.