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Projects Updates for Geothermal at the Campus Instructional Facility (CIF)

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  1. Status Update

    The following is an email conversation between Morgan White, Ahmed Hassan, and Johnathan Hasselbring.

    On Jul 6, 2023 Morgan sent the following:

    Hi Ahmed,

    Thanks for sending another email!  I meant to get back to you earlier, so thanks for the additional note.

    Jon, can you provide information to Ahmed about the current status of the geothermal system at CIF, or connect him with the appropriate people?

    Ahmed, please use this info to request the energy data access:

    The Energy Billing System (EBS) is a web-based software application that offers utility cost and consumption by month, building, and meter. It allows users to view current and historic information, compare buildings, and see trends over time. It requires Blue-Stem authorization and users must request access from F&S.




    Dear Morgan, 

    Thank you very much for the prompt response. Your contribution is highly appreciated. 

    Best Regards 



    Hi Ahmed,

    The geothermal system is in operation and coupled with a heat recovery chiller and radiant heating panels.

    Geothermal provides about 75% of the heating and cooling needs for the building, with the heat recovery chiller and radiant panels supplementing the remaining 25%.

    Please let me know what questions you might have, and I will gladly connect you with more members of the team.



  2. CIF Geothermal Exchange Borefield Information Resources

    Below is an email from Andrew Stumpf regarding the CIF's Geothermal Exhange Borefield.

    From: Stumpf, Andrew J <astumpf at>
    Sent: Monday, October 24, 2022 9:39 AM
    Subject: Re: CEE190 Instructor meeting


    Hi Eric,


    Yes. The report is available on IDEALS, so publicly available. Correct, John has been doing further study on the CIF building. He has been working with me on the research… his PhD exam is next Monday, so pretty busy. I’ve only had a brief tour of the mechanicals when it was first built, so I can’t really comment about the system inside. Dr. Tugce Baser in CEE tbaser at I believe received a more detailed tour, so you might want to reach out to her. Here is some information about the mechanicals published for an ASHRAE award the building received.





  3. Visualization of the impact of CIF geothermal

    “In summary, there will be 2 slides taking turns to be displayed on the digital screen in CIF. The first slide is primarily composed of the 3D GSHP system schematic (Ground loops, heat pump and building) and the key parameters & features. The second slide shows the results from building energy modeling, including annual outdoor temperature variations, heating/cooing loads and other energy consumptions. This may [help] visualize the impact of CIF geothermal and give public a better understanding on the renewable resources.”

    -John Zhao (11/14/2022)

    PhD. Candidate

    Research Assistant

    Agricultural & Biological Engineering

    Research field: Ground Source HVAC System/Subsurface Heat Transfer

    University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

    Attached Files: 
  4. Geothermal @ CIF Inquiry

    John Zhao, PhD. Candidate, reached out to Dr. Stumpf with a question regarding the CIF's geothermal capacity. Specifically, the question was, "The description of this project  says:'The optimized geothermal exchange system will supply the CIF building with approximately 135 tons of heating and cooling capacity, equivalent to almost 65% of the total building energy demand.I am checking if the GSHP only covers the 65% of the building space conditioning, or the heating/cooling account for 65% of the total electricity consumption (considering lighting, and etc.)?"

    Dr Stumpf replied explaining that the 135 tons is 65% of the building's energy demand and the GSHPS (ground source heat pump) covers this portion. The GSHPS is primarily used to offset energy for making chilled water since the building is cooling dominated. The other 35% is for electricity (making hot water, running HVAC system, geothermal and water pumps, etc.)

    Zhao met with Eric Vetter (in charge of the CIF) and got the following heat pump capacity information:

    Manufacturer: ClimaCool Corporation

    Cooling Capacity: 141 Ton /  1,692 MBH

    Heating Capacity: 2,222 MBH

    Electricity Input: At full capacity rated 100.4 - 144.3 kW.

  5. Digital Sign for Recognition of SSC $375k Contribution

    Part of the $25K fund 1‐304398, “602 SSC‐CIF Geothermal” for the CIF account is recognizing SSC’s $375K contribution to Geothermal in digital signage for a year at CIF.


    The final draft of the digital signage is attached below.


    Attached Files: 
  6. News-Gazette article about CIF geothermal

    The News-Gazette printed this story about the geothermal at the Campus Instructional Facility:


    "URBANA — The University of Illinois’ glossy new building at Springfield Avenue and Wright Street represents the next step in its sustainability goals.

    The four-story, 122,000- square-foot, $75 million Campus Instructional Facility is also the biggest geothermal installation on the UI campus.

    Its geothermal system can pump 135 tons of hot or cool air into the building. That’s twice as much as the next biggest geothermal system on campus, and about 30 times the amount pumped into an average home.

    “The whole world knows about solar and wind power and things like that — hydroelectric power, too — but that’s only the electric side of energy. Energy also includes heating and cooling,” said Morgan White, director of sustainability at UI Facilities & Services. “It’s truly transformative, because it’s moving into the phase of getting us clean thermal energy and not just clean electricity.”

    Electricity provides heating and cooling as well, she said, but it’s primarily provided by natural gas, propane and other nonrenewable sources of energy.

    The key to the geothermal endeavor? Forty boreholes dug into the Bardeen Quad next to Grainger Library. They’re 20 feet apart, 6 inches wide and drilled 450 feet deep.

    Initially, the project required 60 boreholes, but UI researchers reduced that figure — and made the system financially feasible — by checking the thermal conductivity of different rock and soil layers, or the rate that heat passes through them, while considering the depth and flow rate of groundwater.

    To keep the building temperate year-round, a mixture of water and glycol circulates from a heat pump in the mechanical room into a pipe that runs up and down the underground field of boreholes.

    In winter, the pump pulls heat from the ground into the building. In summer, heat is pumped from the building back into the ground.

    “It’s like when you have a bathtub that’s a little too hot or a little too cold, and you pour some water in and stir it up,” White said.

    In all, the system reduces the building’s energy consumption by 65 percent compared to a typical heating/cooling installation, saving about $45,000 per year.

    Student initiatives helped fund the state-of-the-art thermal system. The 18-member Student Sustainability Committee, funded by the annual “Green Fee” assessed on students, allocated $375,000 — or about 13 percent of the system’s cost — to the facility’s geothermal installation.

    The building has a number of other unique features. It contains two dozen new classrooms — one of the highest figures on campus — replete with active-learning and distance-learning spaces. In the fall, engineering courses will occupy most of the space, along with math, statistics and other technical classes.

    The facility is also the first UI building funded through a public-private partnership, which allows for tax-exempt financing.

    Meanwhile, faculty and graduate students will use temperature information from a 385-foot-deep monitoring well, funded by Facilities & Services and the Institute for Sustainability, Energy and Environment, for continued research opportunities. 

    As part of the Illinois Climate Action Plan, the university plans to get to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

    Currently, around 12 percent of electricity is provided by renewable sources, like the solar and wind farms near campus, White said. But only 4.5 percent of the UI’s total energy use, counting thermal, comes from renewable sources.

    “Clean electricity is important, but it’s not enough,” White said.

    In the planning stages, the UI wasn’t supposed to start implementing geothermal systems until 2035, but a suggestion by Yu-Feng Forrest Lin of the Prairie Research Institute jump-started that process."

  7. New Innovative Classroom Space

    The Campus Instructional Facility is substantially completed and will be open and ready for use in the fall semester. The new building at the southeast corner of Springfield Avenue and Wright Street offers state-of-theart spaces, including classrooms in the round and a “test kitchen” for instructional innovation, as well as cuttingedge technology, including smart glass technology to control incoming light and the largest geothermal energy system implemented so far at the university. Dr. Mohamed Attalla and others from F&S recently toured the new 122,000 square foot building that was constructed under the public-private partnership financing model. Aiming to inspire innovations and promote teamwork, the building will initially host engineering, math, and statistics classes; student career fairs; hack-a-thons; and other collaborations.

  8. Radio interview about geothermal and clean energy

    Morgan White with Facilities and Services, Sustainability, spoke with Stevie Jay and Diane Ducey on May 10, 2021 on ESPN radio 93.5. They discussed the new Campus Instructional Facility geothermal system, other clean energy projects on campus, and the local Geothermal Urbana-Champaign program.  

  9. Podcast: Morgan White Speaks About Solar & Geothermal

    On May 10, 2021, Morgan White joined Stevie Jay Broadcasting to talk about renewable energy in the Champaign-Urbana community. In this 7 minute podcast, Morgan spoke about solar and geothermal energy initiatives by F&S and beyond!

    Listen to the podcast in the attached files!

  10. archived info - previous project description

    When built, the University of Illinois Campus Instructional Facility (CIF) will be a four-story building dedicated to academic and classroom use. CIF will serve 31,000 students daily and will leverage sustainable design to decrease its carbon emissions. The ground source heat exchange system will consist of approximately 60 wells arrayed under the John Bardeen Quad. It will be designed to be expandable, with the ability to be connected to other buildings, allowing for multiple phases. This SSC grant covers approximately 13% of the cost of the geothermal system, and this building project is the first public-private partnership on campus. As the campus works towards being carbon neutral by 2050, this project will not only reduce UIUC’s reliance on fossil fuels, but pave the way for new construction projects to use geothermal systems on campus. 

  11. F&S March 2021 Insider: Solar Farm 2.0 & Geothermal Energy

    In its March 2021 edition, the F&S Insider addressed two of UIUC's innovative sources of energy: Solar Farm 2.0 and Geothermal Energy. The story highlights the origin, installation, and wide array of benefits stemming from the projects.

    To read this story in-depth, please see the attached file below.

  12. Funding Award: Living Lab Platform for CIF geothermal