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Project Updates for collection: Renewable Energy Projects


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  1. Considerations for clean thermal energy

    There are a few examples of clean thermal energy in use on campus at this time. These include:

    • the solar thermal panels on the Activities Rec Center, heating the three swimming pools
    • the biomass boiler at the Energy Farm, heating the two story greenhouse on south Race Street
    • geothermal installations providing heating and cooling at the Fruit Farm Admin Building, the RIPE greenhouse, the Campus Instructional Facility, a few buildings at Allerton Park, the solar decathlon Gable Home at the Energy Farm, and a few rooms in the Hydrosystems Building
    • a wood-fired stove heating some maintenance buildings at Allerton Park

    We could expand these types of energy systems...

    • Additional geothermal installations are being planned for various places around campus, including a geothermal battery system at the Energy Farm.  The other geothermal locations in planning discussions now include the South Campus Center for Interdisciplinary Learning, a future greenhouse for CABBI, and the Doris Christopher Kelley Illinois Extension Building in the Arboretum.
    • The biomass boiler at the Energy Farm was designed with the anticipation of future expansion.
    • Solar thermal is a great option for our area of the planet, but it is not easy to integrate it in our existing energy enterprise.

    Another option for clean thermal energy is biogas, which UIUC contributes to locally through the Grind2Energy system, which takes food waste from the dining halls to the Urbana-Champaign Sanitary District (UCSD).  UCSD puts it through their anaerobic digester which captures the methane (a very strong greenhouse gas).  Currently, that captured methane is used to run an electrical generator, which provides power to the UCSD facility.  An alternative would be to upgrade the methane to pipeline quality and use the biogas a Abbott Power Plant on campus.  This is an expensive option that would require a lot of coordination and funding.

    Another strong option is a micronuclear reactor, which is being studies by the Grainger College of Engineering faculty and researchers.  This system could be integrated with the existing steam distribution system and provide ghg-free energy to campus.


  2. Zero Waste iCAP Meeting 3/10/2023

    On January 30th, the Zero Waste iCAP team met to discuss final thoughts on the finished tailgate recycling recommendation, the feasibility of a large scale composting program on campus, and current work with the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). 

    Meeting minutes are attached.

    Attached Files: 
  3. Update on drilling

    Associated Project(s): 

    From: Stumpf, Andrew J 
    Sent: Wednesday, March 01, 2023 7:37 PM
    To: Rubin, Joshua ; Mies, Tim ; Lamb, Jeremy ; Klein, Bradley Dean 
    Cc: Lin, Yu-Feng ; Weckle, Amy Lorraine; White, Morgan 
    Subject: UTB at the Energy Farm


    Hi folks,


    Here is an update. Dom and Todd worked to get half of the hole grouted today and now wait until tomorrow morning to see if the battery floats, or not. Theoretically it should not, but we will see. They will start up again at 8 am if anyone is over that way. Xiaobing and Tony have gone back to Tennessee.




  4. notes on solar over carports

    Associated Project(s): 

    Michigan Sate University shared some lessons learned from implementing solar car ports on their campus. 

    • make sure your carport roof covers the fll parking space, because they had icicles form on the edge and fall onto a vehicle, which damaged the vehicle
    • snow removal equipment may hit the roof and damage the structure
    • one time an RV hit the structure during tailgating
  5. It's official! ECE is Net Zero Certified!

    Associated Project(s):

    The Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Building at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign has become the university’s first zero energy certified facility through innovative facility design and clean energy produced on campus. All of the operational energy associated with the building is now offset through a combination of on-site solar production and solar renewable energy credits (SRECs), which earned the 238,000 gross square foot facility official Zero Energy (ZE) Certification from the International Living Future Institute (ILFI).

    According to ECE department head Bruce Hajek, “achieving net zero energy was an aspirational goal of everyone who contributed to the project and is the embodiment of the teaching and cutting-edge discovery excellence taking place in this world-class facility. The ability to meet this goal—in less than 10 years since the building’s opening—by using solar energy generated on campus showcases the relentless campus focus on reducing carbon emissions and what is possible through collaboration and leadership in this critical area.”

    The ECE Building produces about 11 percent of its energy through its rooftop array, a 300 kW setup featuring 970 panels. The rest of its consumption is supported through SRECs from Solar Farm 2.0, a 12.32 megawatt (MWdc) utility-scale installation on south campus bordering the Village of Savoy.

    Aerial view of Solar Farm 2.0 south of campus.Aerial view of the Solar Farm 2.0 south of campus. (Photo courtesy of Jim Baltz)

    The IFLI standard for meeting ZE certification includes accounting for all heating, cooling, and other energy a facility uses. Any non-electrical consumption is converted to a kilowatt-hour electricity equivalent to assess the efficiency performance and necessary offset. The certification process required a full year for verification and guarantees for continued zero energy operation into the future. Offsite renewable energy production must also be located within the same regional power grid and linked to building energy usage.

    Ehab Kamarah, associate vice chancellor and executive director of Facilities & Services, said, “Being an active partner with ECE on these types of projects is an example of why the university is a recognized leader in sustainable building design, construction, operations, and on-site renewable energy production. Finalizing this certification is a credit to the U of I’s expertise in solar innovation and expanding clean energy portfolio.”

    Reaching energy conservation and clean energy targets as a part of overall sustainability efforts is fundamental to Illinois’ land-grant university mission. The Illinois Climate Action Plan (iCAP) is the university’s strategic plan to meet the Climate Leadership Commitments, including becoming carbon neutral as soon as possible and building resilience to climate change in the local community. The Urbana campus renewable energy portfolio already meets more than 12 percent of annual electricity needs.

    The ECE building is a sustainable learning laboratory with features that reduce energy consumption and help make zero energy a reality. In November 2019, the building achieved LEED Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council for advanced energy efficiency features, such as LED and fluorescent lighting, intelligent systems to optimize energy usage, excellent space configuration, recycled materials incorporation, and other green design attributes. The facility was designed with most windows facing south for optimal daylighting, heat recovery chillers, chilled beams, exhaust heat recovery wheels, and occupancy sensors. Also, following the opening, the F&S Retrocommissioning team worked to enhance building control systems for peak efficiency by modifying programming, set points, and some controls.

    <<see video of solar panels at>> 

    Many characteristics of the ECE Building directly contribute to research and educational use. A section of the rooftop solar array connects to a major research laboratory in the building and provides hands-on experience with photovoltaic technology. There is a weather station on the roof for collecting data about conditions that affect solar production, like wind speed, temperature, humidity, insolation, and cloud cover. For all visitors, interactive digital signs show updated energy usage and a power dashboard in the building’s atrium.

    More information about the ECE building is available at:

  6. Energy iCAP Team Meeting 10/7/2022

    The energy iCAP team met on Friday, October 7th 2022 to review the team's presentation for the campus sustainability celebration, review the team's priorities for the year, and discuss options for advancing the proposed clean energy plan and increasing procurement of renewable energy through power purchasing agreements.

    Link to meeting recording:

  7. Thank You for Attending Geothermal Illinois: Community or District-Level Systems (Renewable Heating and Cooling)

    Associated Project(s): 

    The following message was sent to individuals who attended the "Geothermal Illinois: Community - & District-Level Systems" presentation led by Brian Urlaub, Associate Vice President & Director of Geothermal Operations, Salas O'Brien:

    Dear Participants,


    Many thanks for attending Geothermal Illinois: Community- & district-level systems, presented by Brian Urlaub, Associate Vice President & Director of Geothermal Operations, SALAS O’BRIEN. Many thanks to the University of Illinois Extension Natural Resource, Energy, and Environment educator Jay Solomon, University of Illinois Civil and Environmental Engineering professor Dr. Tugce Baser, and Illinois Geological Survey’s Andrew Stumpf for presenting additional information on efforts, research, technology, and funding opportunities. We also recognize our network of partnering organizations, whose titles with websites are listed below, along with a link to today’s webinar recording, slide decks, and resource links.



    Slide Decks: 

    Resource Links:

    Funding opportunities:


    Partner organizations:

    Illinois Geothermal Coalition

    Midwest Building Decarbonization Coalition (MBDC)

    Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment (iSEE)

    Illinois Water Resources Center

    Geothermal Alliance of Illinois

    International Ground Source Heat Pump Association (IGSHPA)

    The Geothermal Exchange Organization (GEOEXCHANGE)

    Prairie Rivers Network

    Citizens Utility Board

    Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition


    Many thanks for your interest in today’s topic. Our presenters and experts are copied on this email, and you are welcome to reach out to any of us for further conversation and support as you work towards energy independence, resiliency, and sustainability!


    Best wishes,




  8. 2022 TEACHAD Webinar: Case study from the Michigan State University South Campus Anaerobic Digester

    Dana Kirk, Associate Professor at Michigan State University, presented a webinar on May 31, 2022 titled "Universities go green! A case study from the Michigan State University South Campus Anaerobic Digester", which also featured Marcello Pibiri, Senior Research Engineer at Energy Resources Center UIC.

    In case you missed the live webinar or if you would like to view the recorded session again, go to You can register with your name and email to watch the recording. Also attached is the presentation by Dana Kirk from this webinar.

    Marcello and his team at ERC organize the New Technical Education & Analysis for Community Hauling and Anaerobic Digesters (TEACH AD) Program to educate people about Anaerobic Digesters.

  9. archived info - previous project description

    This project will provide a study to investigate the feasibility of installing an Anaerobic Methane Digester in the area of the University’s South Farms to capture renewable energy from beef, sheep and/or dairy cow waste. The study will assess the possibility of an on-site digester at one site, with one digester system of animal waste. The study will identify useful “Waste/Organics to Energy Efforts” using available technology paths and options that match the goals and expectations of the UIUC stakeholders and project team, to deliver to UIUC a “Renewable Energy Waste/Organics to Fuel Study.” We will also include a section to address the goal to pursue carbon offsets in the project. We will use “The Illinois Climate Action Plan (iCAP)” to address greenhouse gas reduction strategies compliance.

  10. Urbana-Champaign Solar Group Buy Celebrates Another Successful Year

    Associated Project(s): 

    From: Marta Monti <>
    Sent: Wednesday, April 13, 2022 10:05 AM
    To:; Scott Tess <>; White, Morgan <mbwhite at>;; Amanda Pankau <>;;;;;;;;;;;; Kim Knowles <>; Andy Robinson <>; Cassie Carroll <>
    Cc: Taylor Ball <>; Peter Murphy <>
    Subject: [THANK YOU!] Urbana-Champaign Solar Group Buy Celebrates Another Successful Year


    Hi everyone,


    Thank you for your support of the Grow Solar Urbana-Champaign program. It's been another successful program, with 16 properties decided to go solar, resulting in 120.12 kW of new renewable energy generating capacity in our region. We passed our 50 kW benchmark, resulting in an average household bulk buying discount of an additional $270.


    Final press release for the 2021 program, if you're interested and would like to share with your networks. If you are able to help circulate the press release, or the results, that would be great. Let me know what you need from me if you are going to share the press release!


    We have one final ask of you to help us wrap up the program: If you could be so kind as to fill out this program evaluation survey. The feedback you provide will help us continue to improve and facilitate more successful Grow Solar programs like this one. 


    This program couldn't have happened without your support. So whether you went solar yourself (congratulations!), or represented one of the partnering municipalities, neighborhood associations, or organizations, whether you co-hosted a Solar Power Hour presentation, or simply helped spread the word about the program to your network, thank you!


    All the best, 




    Marta Monti, she/her/hers

    Solar Program Manager



    Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA)

    3628 W Pierce St. Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53215


    Grow Solar in your community with help from our team. 
    Become a proud 
    member of the MREA.