Energy Savings Project at the Gerald Ratner Athletics Center

The Gerald Ratner Athletics Center opened in the fall of 2003 and is located in the Northern area of campus near Ellis Avenue and 55th Street. The 150,000 square-foot facility features a competition swimming pool, fitness center, a multipurpose dance studio, competition and auxiliary gymnasium, classroom and meeting room space, locker rooms, and the athletic department offices. The University of Chicago recently completed a detailed energy audit of the facility and implemented energy conservation measures (ECM) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across campus.

Energy conservation measures were implemented in collaboration with several University departments, including Athletics and Recreation, the energy services team in Facilities Services, North Campus Engineers, the Electrical Shop, and the Building Automation Shop. The lighting project retrofitted or replaced over 1,700 fluorescent light fixtures with LEDs and is projected to reduce electricity consumption by over 624,000-kilowatt-hours.  

Seven energy conservation measures were implemented, resulting in a building energy use reduction of approximately 9% and a greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction of 510 metric tons eCO2 per year. This reduction is equivalent to removing 110 passenger vehicles from the road. The installation of LED fixtures dramatically improved the facility's lighting quality and will reduce lighting replacement costs over the next decade. The new exterior lights increased light levels adding to the safety for pedestrians at night.

Figure 1: Inefficient metal halide fixtures were replaced in both gymnasiums with new LED fixtures that will last over 100,000 hours before replacement.

The University’s energy efficiency program, whose focus is around facilities with high energy profiles, identified Ratner as an area for potential improvement. Its high energy-use profile and functionality put Ratner in the top 40 buildings responsible for 80% of the campus energy consumption. The success of the project highlights collaborative efforts across multiple departments and demonstrates the University’s commitment to sustainability and energy efficiency. The University’s energy management information system will be used to validate the energy efficiency model and ensure that building systems continue to perform and achieve the expected energy use reductions. 

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 the 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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