The University of Chicago is proud to announce that it has received the 2021 ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year (ESPOY) Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy. Each year, the ENERGY STAR program honors organizations that have made outstanding contributions to protecting the environment through superior energy achievements. ENERGY STAR Award Winners lead their industries in the production, sale, and adoption of energy-efficient products, services, and strategies. These efforts are essential to fighting the climate crisis and protecting public health.
Winners are selected from a network of thousands of ENERGY STAR partners. For a complete list of 2021 winners and more information about ENERGY STAR’s awards program, visit energystar.gov/awardwinners. To learn more about what it means to become an ENERGY STAR Partner, check out this video.
Executing energy efficiency projects in 2020 presented a challenge as on-campus activity was curtailed for several months while most employees worked remotely due to COVID-19. The energy audits completed used remote monitoring technology through campus building automation systems, with targeted follow-up functional performance tests on-site when possible. Despite the challenging circumstances created by the pandemic, University buildings achieved a 13% reduction in site energy use intensity (EUI) in 2020.
UChicago follows the ENERGY STAR Guidelines for Energy Management and relies on Portfolio Manager® to track usage, identify improvement opportunities and validate successes, including the 102 measures initiated and/or completed during the 2020 calendar year that are projected to reduce energy consumption by 99,700 MMBTU and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 6,850 MTeCO2. UChicago anticipates a 5% reduction in total campus GHG emissions as a result of these initiatives. Some highlights that contributed to the 2021 ESPOY award include:
- Completed energy efficiency projects in 14 buildings totaling 2.5 million square feet projected to save 69,000 MMBTU and reduce GHG emissions by 4,770 MTeCO2.
- Completed a campus-wide steam insulation project, consisting of 4,200 feet of straight pipe insulation and 2,963 insulation jackets that are projected to save 26,650 MMBTU and reduce GHG emissions by 1,770 MTeCO2.
- Increased communications to students and the campus community through a new energy webpage and social media accounts that promote ENERGY STAR, share energy program information, energy efficiency success stories, and campus utility data via energy dashboards.
- Conducted in-person student tours of utility plants and held an ENERGY STAR treasure hunt with student sustainability organizations.
- Partnered with the Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation Environment Frontiers initiative to host nine student research assistants that provided valuable support to the energy and sustainability programs. Student projects included analyzing LEED building energy use, reviewing campus laboratory ventilation, exploring campus water use and efficiency opportunities, and creating a social media outreach strategy.
UChicago has a strong commitment to energy efficiency and sustainability. In 2020, UChicago established a goal to reduce absolute greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030. The new Facilities Services energy website highlights sustainability efforts, recent energy conservation awards from Retrofit Chicago and the ASHRAE Illinois Chapter, and our proud partnership with ENERGY STAR.
Why partner with ENERGY STAR?
ENERGY STAR is the internationally recognized standard for the independent monitoring of energy performance. The University’s partnership with ENERGY STAR supports the existing efforts to reduce utility costs and greenhouse gas emissions with the following benefits.
- Measure, track, and benchmark institutional energy performance using ENERGY STAR tools and resources
- Support developing and implementing a plan to improve institutional energy performance via the ENERGY STAR Guidelines for Energy Management
- Enhanced benchmarking of the University’s energy, water, and greenhouse gas emissions data against other institutions in the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager
- Provide additional tools to track annual progress against energy efficiency goals
- Apply for ENERGY STAR certification for eligible buildings highlighting the University’s achievement in energy efficiency
- Engage students and the campus community by using ENERGY STAR tools such as activity kits and educational programs
- Encourage the purchase of energy-efficient appliances such as ultra-low temperature freezers using ENERGY STAR certified products and specifications
- Use ENERGY STAR promotional and communications materials