You are here

Projects Updates for ECE Net-Zero Energy Building

Search tips:
  • This form will search for words in the title OR the description. If you would like to search for the same term(s) across both the title and description, enter the same search term(s) in both fields.
  • This form will search for any of the words you enter in a field, not the exact phrase you enter. If you would like to search for an exact phrase, put double quotes (") around the phrase. For example, if you search for Bike Path you will get results containing either the word Bike OR the word Path, but if you search for "Bike Path" you will get results containing the exact phrase Bike Path.


  1. ECE Net Zero Celebration 

    The Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Building at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign was certified as the university’s first zero-energy facility in January 2023. Join the ECE Department and The Grainger College of Engineering to celebrate this milestone on the path to building a more sustainable future. 

    When: Wednesday January 24, 2024 from 4 p.m.
    Where: Electrical & Computer Engineering Building Atrium, 306 N. Wright St, Urbana, IL 61801


  2. RECs for small solar rooftop arrays

    Hi Rob and Tony,


    Tim Mies asked me who “owns” the RECs from small scale solar arrays at individual buildings.  I said I’d have to check into it.


    At first I thought all RECs are owned by central campus (UES), but then I questioned myself.  For a rooftop solar array, we don’t include it in the M-RETS program, and at ECE, we only “sold” them the solar farm 2.0 RECs.  We let them count their rooftop solar directly and they have the DOR accordingly. 


    So is it appropriate to tell him that the RECs associated with the 14.7 kW array he is planning to install at the Energy Farm (not the SCAPES project) will be considered “used” at the Energy Farm?


    I would caution that we do not want individual departments to get into selling RECs, without a much broader discussion.  So perhaps we should say that he can use/retire them at his site, but he cannot sell them without further discussion?


    What do you recommend?





    Good questions. I think that if the department “owns” the REC, then they should also be able to sell the REC. I am interested in others views on the topic, and agree that it would lend to a much broader discussion.

    Rob Roman


    I agree that a broader discussion would be helpful.





  3. 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:

  4. ECEB Energy Kiosks

    In the atrium of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Building (ECEB), there are two kiosks where people can sign various pledges related to decreasing energy use. Two solar-powered phone chargers will be raffled off to those who have signed the pledge during Campus Sustainability Month, October 2021.

    Nearly 20% of energy is unnecessarily wasted each day; very simple steps exist to reduce that number, such as turning off the lights when you leave a room or unplugging devices and cords when we aren’t using them. Other examples include replacing inefficient appliances (like lightbulbs!), which can also save money! Signing the pledge to be more conscious of your energy is a great step toward leading a more sustainable life. Here are a few other ways to learn more and get involved with sustainability on campus:

    If you have any questions about energy consumption or sustainability in general, feel free to reach out to campus sustainability staff at

  5. Real-time energy dashboards now available

    After discussions with Michael McKelvey at MSTE and Aaron Mason and Ian Bonadeo at Hawkeye Energy Solutions, since Morgan White put them in contact back in April, the ECE building’s energy dashboards are now available without requiring a login and via domain name rather than IP address! Here are the dashboards:

    ECE Building – Energy Dashboard

    ECE Building – Net Zero Energy Dashboard

    You can view the listing of dashboards currently available at the U of I Building Energy Dashboard Home Page.


  6. ECE energy dashboard refinement in discussion

    Joyce Mast is working with Patricia Franke to refine the ECE energy displays to include the effect of local weather on the solar panels. F&S Utilities and Energy Services is connecting Joyce with the contact people at Hawkeye Energy Solutions, who incorporated real-time energy data in the ECE energy dashboard, using campus data provided by F&S.

  7. 2021 – ECEB is 100% Solar Powered!

    Associated Project(s): 

    ECEB solar panels have been generating power since April 2020. Building energy use is offset by the ECEB solar panel production and, since February when a contract between F&S and ECE has been in place, the excess energy use not offset by the ECEB solar panels is being replaced through solar renewable energy credits (SRECS) from Solar Farm2. These credits are being paid for by the ECE Power and Energy group.

  8. ECE Building Energy Dashboards

    From: McKelvey, Michael L
    Sent: Tuesday, July 13, 2021 10:10 AM
    To: White, Morgan
    Subject: ECE building energy dashboards


    Hi Morgan,


    You may already be aware of this, but I wanted to let you know that, after corresponding with Aaron Mason and Ian Bonadeo at Hawkeye Energy Solutions since you put us in contact back in April, the ECE building’s energy dashboards are now available without requiring a login and via domain name rather than IP address! Here are the dashboards:


    ECE Building – Energy Dashboard

    ECE Building – Net Zero Energy Dashboard


    You can view the listing of dashboards currently available at the U of I Building Energy Dashboard Home Page.


    They’re now ready to be linked from the appropriate iCAP Portal entries!



    ============== Michael McKelvey ===============

    Office for Mathematics, Science, & Technology Education

    University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

    (217) 244-7148

    ============ mmckelve at ============

  9. Brainstormed Ideas for the ECE Lobby Display and Kiosks

    A document of ideas brainstormed for the displays and kiosks in the ECE lobby was sent to Joyce Mast by F&S contacts. These ideas were created with the goal of having students actively engage with the display through physical interaction, as well as passive engagement while students look at the stations in passing.

  10. Resources for Engagement and Displays

  11. ECE energy dashboard

    Objectively, everyone knows you should conserve energy resources, but it is easy to lose track of that goal in the hundreds of other things our brains need to think about each day. One way to encourage people to be more cognizant is to give them a tangible reminder. The local electric company, for example, sometimes send a reminder notice that tells you how well you’re doing with energy consumption compared to other homes the size of yours in the area. In a similar idea, F&S has developed an improved energy dashboard that will be used in campus facilities. Beginning with the Electrical & Computer Engineering (ECE) Building, Energy Dashboards will be deployed to show the utility use for a specific building. It will also show if that use is above or below average for the last 30 days or one year. The dashboard appears in the rotation of the ECE digital signage in the lobby of the building. The plan is to expand it to other buildings to help promote energy awareness and conservation on campus.

    Attached Files: 
  12. Meeting with Joyce, Nynika, and Morgan

    Associated Project(s): 

    We met today to discuss the plans for the ECE Net-Zero Energy certification.

    • Joyce and Nynika found that we had lost access to the certification site, so Joyce is going to work with the certification agency to get us back into their system.
    • Joyce and Morgan agreed that based on the feedback from the certification agency, we will need to wait for the official designation until the Solar Farm 2.0 has been live for a year.
    • Nynika is going to review the guidebook (attached here) and their website FAQs (at to help us clarify the expected answers to the certification questions.
    • Morgan checked the building records and found a site plan and the 3d renderings.
    • Joyce will look for some building photos to include and send them to this group.
  13. Net-Zero Energy meeting

    Associated Project(s): 

    During the first meeting, Morgan gave Nynika (undergraduate volunteer) an overview on details relating to the certification including RECS and how the certification program works. Her next steps include:

    • Writing up a small spiel for the International Living Future Institute as to why we would like to use the "use data" from the calendar year of 2020 with the production data from 2021 towards the certification.
    • Looking through the Living Institute's certification requirements and understanding what information is needed and where to find it.

    The next meeting will be on March 10th.

  14. ECEB Net-Zero Updates & Clarifications

    As of March 01, 2021, many small edits and content ideas were suggested for ECEB-related project pages on the iCAP Portal. These suggestions to update the pages were provided by Joyce Mast and include the following:

    • The North Campus Parking Solar Project was canceled.
    • The ECE department was looking to buy Solar Farm 2.0 Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) from F&S to try and achieve net 0 emissions.
    • They are working to secure grant money for a monitor inside the ECEB where students can interact with their current progress. I attached more information about it.
    • The ECE Building Audio Tour video can also be used to identify any additional and supplementary information.
  15. SSC Funding Request & Approval for ECE Lobby Displays

    On February 28, 2021, Catherine Somers sent out an email to Professors Bruce Hajek and Philip Krein regarding the ECE lobby displays. As written in the exciting email:

    "I have a bit of good news!  The Student Sustainability Committee-funded lobby display which will eventually have interactive features to encourage energy savings, is taking shape.  The kiosks and the touchscreen panel are installed and rotating informational slides.  Joyce Mast continues to make excellent progress on the real-time display of solar energy production." -Catherine Somers

    This approval follows suit after the Mast's submitted application for SSC funding for the lobby displays. In Step 2 of the funding application, $30,000 was requested from the SSC for "Electrical and Computer Engineering Building (ECEB) Interactive, Energy Education/Production/Use Display."

    See the attached file to view the SSC funding application.

  16. discussion with Morgan and Joyce

    Associated Project(s): 

    Joyce Mast from ECE and Morgan White from F&S met today to review the status of the ECE Net Zero Energy Certification efforts.  Joyce is going to review the open questions Morgan sent earlier this year, and reach out to the Living Futures folks to clarify whether we can pursue the certification for calendar year 2020 using solar power produced in calendar year 2021 from Solar Farm 2.0.  Morgan is going to find a student in the sustainability circles to help complete this paperwork and have her intern calculate the total energy consumption for ECE from calendar year 2020, using EBS data.

  17. Info from Andy Robinson at F&S

    I am on the team that did the Retrocommissioning project in 2018 and I would be happy to share some of our knowledge from that process.  Below is the link to a presentation of that project that we took to a Big Ten energy conference.   Some of our main takeaways are that the combination of chilled beams, dual HX wheels, coil sizing, occupancy ventilation, and thoughtful building pressurization have led to one of the most efficient buildings on campus.  Also, the heat pumps work well to heat/cool with electricity, but would be optimal if there were more of a reheat load, or a hot water loop to send reject heat to a neighboring building in summer, which campus is looking into in certain locations. 



    Andy Robinson, LEED-AP, CEM

    DDC Specialist, F&S Energy Services - RCx