The University of Chicago Received Retrofit Chicago Mayor’s Leadership Circle Award

From left: Ryan Hoff, Jim Murphy, Brian Bozell, John Carey, Alfredo (Freddy) Izguerra, and Adam D’Ambrosio

On behalf of The University of Chicago, staff accepted the 2019 Retrofit Chicago Mayor’s Leadership Circle Award which was received for exceeding the 20% energy reduction goal at The Joe and Rika Mansueto Library. The award ceremony was held on October 23 at Michigan Plaza's Tenant Lounge and Conference Center. Last year, the University earned the Energy Challenge Award from Retrofit Chicago for energy reduction at The Joseph Regenstein Library.

The Mansueto Library is one of the top 38 buildings which are responsible for approximately 80% of the campus energy consumption. Because of this high-energy use profile, Facilities Services (FS) initiated a Preventative Maintenance and Commissioning (PM+Cx) strategy designed to provide an in-depth look at building systems and components to find and fix equipment that may be underperforming. FS staff members Mark Garrity, building engineer, and James Murphy, commissioning engineer, engaged John Carey, library facilities manager, for planning and implementation. Garrity and Murphy identified key pieces of equipment for testing, critical zones to monitor, and operational deficiencies available for improvement. Carey, an active advocate for energy-efficiency in the Library, was essential to the project’s success by providing helpful feedback, timely resources, and necessary approvals.

As part of the PM+Cx program, three energy conservation measures (ECMs) were identified and implemented. ECMs are intended to address the University’s focus on energy conservation, cost management, and environmental stewardship. For example, the study identified an opportunity to reduce the simultaneous heating and cooling of The Mansueto Library’s large reading room using trend data from the air-handling units (AHUs). Because the reading room is a large open space, there is significant interaction between different AHUs serving different zones of the room.  When the perimeter AHUs were in heating mode, the central AHU was in cooling mode.  When the perimeter AHUs were in cooling mode, the central AHU was in heating mode.  This condition resulted in considerable wasted heating and cooling energy.  To address this condition, FS implemented a discharge air temperature reset sequence for five AHUs that synchronizes heating and cooling for all AHUs based on outside air temperature. Zone thermostats were replaced or consolidated to support the systemic approach. Simultaneous heating and cooling were dramatically reduced as a result, leading to increased operational efficiency and nearly 80 metric tons carbon dioxide equivalent avoided annually. The system now monitors outside air conditions closely and provides heating/cooling only when necessary.  

The Mansueto Library’s annualized energy use intensity (EUI) is displayed in the graph above and represents the energy consumed relative to the building’s square footage. This graph demonstrates a steady reduction in the annualized EUI as a result of the on-going efforts. Equally as important, yet not shown in the graph is the improved building performance, increased occupant comfort, and reduced maintenance costs.

The University of Chicago is a proud United States Environmental Protection Agency ENERGY STAR® Partner, collaborating with peer institutions to reduce higher education campus energy usage. The goal of this energy efficiency program is to: (1) reduce the impact on the environment as about 70 percent of University greenhouse gas emissions are from energy usage in campus buildings; (2) redirect funds currently going to utility providers back into maintenance of our campus buildings; and (3) reduce the risk of disruption to our educational and research mission by locating and correcting issues before systems and components in our buildings fail.   More than 200 energy efficiency measures have been completed in the University of Chicago campus buildings since 2009, and buildings will continue to be the primary target of our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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