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Projects Updates for Clean Energy Plan

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  1. suggestions for Clean Energy Planning

    Associated Project(s): 

        --Your Information--

          Name: Damon McFall, PE, MBA

          Affiliation: Mechanical Science & Engineering Department



        --Suggestion Details--

          Subject / Project Name: Creating a Tasked Approach to 2050 Carbon

          Neutrality Objective

          Type: New Project


          Project: Act 2050.


          As 2022 concludes, I sense the need to draft up my end of the

          year thoughts on iCAP and our approach. We cannot afford to think

          only of 2050 as our ultimate goal of net-zero carbon achievement.

          We must consider incremental plans, i.e. 2030 and 2040 with our

          stretch goal attaining victory by 2050. Please find my thoughts

          on addressing climate change at the University of Illinois and

          proposal for a new project that will involve a massive effort of

          bringing together respective parties in developing a

          comprehensive Act 2050 schedule to complement and build upon the

          Clean Energy Plan. The tasks below are to stimulate thought.

          However, they lack supporting detail and perhaps other factors

          not yet considered by the author. Such are welcomed to develop a

          framework of measurable action and allow for prudent planning of

          constrained resources. The seven broad concepts currently are: 1)

          source sustainably, 2) build smartly and well, 3) renovate

          strategically, 4) measure the relevant, 5) educate widely, 6)

          monitor and act astutely, and 7) world events. This could be a

          supplement provided to a hired holistically thinking firm that

          can organize the broad and diverse community to plan the entirety

          of a GHG emission zero campus and community.


          1.     Source Sustainably.

          a.     Stay abreast of source utility providers and on-campus

          generation. How will these interplay and complement each other in

          joint master planning efforts?

          b.     Develop relationships with source utility providers and

          maintain awareness and encourage phased master planning documents

          (i.e. 2030, 2040, 2050) to be jointly developed and shared by

          campus and utility providers.


          2.     Build Smartly and WELL.

          a.     By 2023, abandon the net-zero growth policy while requiring

          all new projects and current projects to build/renovate to

          “net-zero ready”, or LEED Platinum (latest version).

          b.     By 2023, attend professional organizational meetings to

          encourage local professionals to educate themselves on "net-zero

          ready" building paradigm.

          c.     By 2023, chart and understand time related metrics (and cost)

          to deliver a capital project, especially with CDB participation

          as is anticipated unless P3 approach receives BOT approval.

          i.      This analysis should include the availability of labor at max

          capacity of union tradespersons to perform installations.

          Recently, at six large campus projects, the labor halls were

          empty. What does the educational and labor pipeline and trends

          forecast for tradespersons over next 30 years?

          ii.     Illinois State and University of Illinois Springfield

          construction projects will also be increasing as time approaches,

          thus perhaps drawing on regional labor pool.

          iii.    If we must address 100 buildings collectively, plus many in

          the surrounding community, we may be looking at 15-20 years of

          continuous construction at 100% labor availability (having all

          labor re-tooled to know latest tech and science of advancing


          d.     Campus level technologies deployable now (2023) are to be

          considered in the proposed Clean Energy Plan and may include:

          steam, chilled water, solar, wind, geothermal, nuclear, methane,

          renewable natural gas, hydrogen, and low temperature hot water,

          and other delivery systems. Appears the solution lies in

          optimizing the various potentials, various use types, and

          external utility provider sources of available technologies for

          the optimal benefit per investment.

          e.     Building level technologies deployable now (2023) are to be

          considered in the proposed Clean Energy Plan and may include:

          energy recovery wheels, heat pump, advanced sequences of

          operation, auto-fault detection and diagnostics, variable speed

          drives, digital controls, occupancy/vacancy sensors, LED

          lighting, heat recovery chillers, high efficiency boilers, low

          temp heating water systems, variable refrigerant technologies,

          and building envelope and comfort system continuous and


          f.      Build so as to be maintainable afterwards with least effort

          and educated resources.

          g.     By 2025, make it mandatory to design to optimally reduce scope

          1 and 2 GHG emissions.

          h.     By 2025 and ongoing, reflect on and enable efficiencies in the

          capital project delivery process to reduce time in each action.

          i.      By 2026, hire only A/E’s and Construction Managers with

          experience in providing “net zero ready” and WELL buildings;

          must demonstrate continuous advancement in net-zero knowledge and


          j.      By 2027, decide what campus utility systems will be used to

          meet 2050 objective.

          k.     By 2027, create “Program Statement” language that includes

          provisions for mandatory meeting “net zero ready”, WELL

          Buildings, LEED Platinum buildings, and neutral GHG emission

          objectives and include as possible International Living Institute

          and Regeneration Design concepts to stretch towards


          l.      By 2027, enable state and local government to require more

          stringent energy and greenhouse gas emissions policies for state

          and non-state funded capital projects.

          m.     By 2030, build to net-zero GHG emission levels while

          optimizing source production, energy use index, and human

          wellness per building use type.


          3.     Renovate Strategically.

          a.     By 2023, demolish as necessary during renovation to reduce

          release of embodied carbon.

          b.     By 2023, recycle as much as possible when demolishing.

          c.     By 2026 to 2041, design all systems of facilities to "GHG

          neutral or net-zero ready" for buildings campus determines to

          keep for next 30 years (campus needs to create a long-term vision

          and planning document to 2050 that address carbon neutrality).

          d.     By 2029 to 2049, execute phased construction of

          projects/utilities to achieve net-zero carbon metric, using 100%

          of available labor pool and plan on 20 years of continuous

          construction activity.


          4.     Measure the Relevant.

          a.     By 2023, maintain accurate, trended, and normalized energy

          consumption data on all facilities.

          b.     By 2025, create and perform a 5-year rotating plan to perform

          Level 2 Energy Audits on top 100 GHG emitting facilities by


          c.     By 2025, know and track annually Scope 1, Scope 2, and Scope 3

          emissions as developed by the EPA for each facility on campus.


          5.     Educate Widely.

          a.     By 2024, if research is underway that may impact carbon

          neutrality objectives, inform campus with expected year of

          commercially available and UL listed products.

          b.     By 2024, communicate widely the project concept to occupation

          length of time, availability of labor resources, availability of

          vendor resources, etc.

          i.      As an example, the LUMEB facility took 8 years from concept to

          occupancy. This transpired over COVID-19, but before supply chain


          ii.     One can expect supply chain shortages for relevant technology

          and design/installation expertise to increase as we approach 2050

          on a global scale.

          c.     By 2025 to 2040, incentivize education of entire building

          industry on net-zero approaches.

          d.     By 2026 (upon receipt of master plan), share plan with and

          have mandatory workshops for any parties who participate in the

          design, construction, and maintenance of a new facility on

          campus, including many representatives and authorities at campus

          facilities and services. They provide utility provisions, energy

          certifications, and sustainable measures as approved by State of

          Illinois and in harmony with their independently crafted building

          standards, existing infrastructure, and internal master planning


          e.     By 2026, report to campus and others the annual scope

          emissions mentioned above for each facility.

          f.      By 2026, enable all chairs, heads, and business associates to

          understand the fiscal impact expected and provide time to

          allocate/determine funding resources.

          g.     By 2026, enable education of latest technology and

          improvements in a continuous fashion year after year to labor

          pool (update materials minimally once per year), i.e. A2L low

          flammability refrigerant.


          6.     Monitor and Act Astutely.

          a.     Now… be aware of governmental, political and scientific

          organizations programs and effects, educate widely!

          i.      Now... COP, Paris Agreement, etc.

          b.     Now… be aware of global companies and efforts or lack

          thereof to achieve net-zero carbon emissions.

          c.     Now… know dynamic vendor supply chain constraints,

          understand “early bird gets the worm” strategy, and update

          general project timelines.

          d.     Now…plan to abandon steam generation at campus level and

          move to building level as required as efficiently as possible,

          begin migration.

          e.     Now… assess and track dynamic public opinion as we approach

          2030 and each following year successfully, reviewing as to

          impact; calculate loss or gain of tuition and research revenue

          based on progress to net-zero carbon.

          f.      By 2026, be aware of campus scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions

          per EPA on annual basis and act to maintain momentum as



          7.     World Events.

          a.     Plan for and consider probability of effect on timescale

          and perhaps necessity to exert more effort due to war, civil

          unrest, pandemic, or like events.


          Pros / Cons:

          Pros - provides a proposal of actual tasks required to achieve

          carbon neutrality by 2050 by our campus and surrounding

          community, seeking to provide a platform for discussion of a

          comprehensive and holistic view of the complex and dynamic forces

          that will minimally affect the end objective.

          Cons - This suggestion is of one mind. The suggestions above may

          already be in motion, but not broadly communicated in a unified

          fashion. Broader and inclusive discussion with respective parties

          to be affected by this cultural evolution (everyone) need to be

          involved in the discussion and provide their independent thoughts

          towards enabling the community at large and state to achieve the

          2050 objective.





    The results of this submission may be viewed at:



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  2. Energy iCAP Meeting 1/30/2023

    The Energy iCAP Team met on January 30th, 2023 to discuss recommendations on building energy efficiency and revitalizing the energy scholars council at UIUC.

    Link to meeting recording

  3. Sustainability Council Meeting 12-13-22

    The Sustainability Council met on 12-13-22 and discussed the following agenda:

    • Zero Waste
    • Energy Planning
    • Strategic Plan
    • Old Business
      - Sustainability General Education Requirement
      - Sustainable Land Management Committee Report

    The meeting minutes and slide deck are attached. 

  4. Sustainability Sub-Council Meeting Minutes 11-17-22

    The Sustainability Sub-Council met on Thursday, November 17 and discussed the following agenda. 

    1) Zero waste
    2) Energy planning
    3) Campus Strategic Plan
    4) Old business
    a. Sustainability General Education requirement
    b. Sustainable land management committee report

    The meeting minutes and PowerPoint presentation are attached. 

  5. Draft Scenarios for Comprehensive Energy Planning Document

    Associated Project(s): 

    Below is an email exchange between Morgan White, Rob Roman, and members from the iWG and Energy iCAP Working Groups:

    Hello iCAP Working Group,


    One of the iCAP 2020 objectives is to develop a Comprehensive Energy Planning Document that includes clean energy and energy efficiency solutions to identify the best path to meet our climate commitments.  To that end, I worked with a team of students last year who developed the attached ABE 469 report, describing options to consider. 


    Our intention is to hire a consultant to calculate the costs and benefits of various pathways for our campus, and the attached “Comprehensive Energy Planning” document is a first draft of scenarios to be evaluated.  We will go through this document during our discussion today.


    I’m also including a list of buildings that use steam inside the building, so that you can be aware of the reasons we don’t just turn off Abbott Power Plant, which co-generates steam and electricity for the campus facilities.  Many other buildings are heated with steam, through the district heating system, but they convert it to hot water or forced air once it gets inside the facility.





    Energy iCAP Team,


    I attached several documents related to scenario development for energy planning. Please see the trailing email from Morgan White for additional explanation. We are still in the early phases of this effort and welcome your input. The iWG will be discussing scenarios at our next meeting on November 7 @ 9AM.






    A couple of thoughts:


    There probably should be a list of major capital projects that are targeted for completion in say the next 10 years.  We typically cut the energy usage in the range of say 50 -75% on major renovation projects examples of this are the Everitt lab remodel, Undergraduate Library,  MRL via the ESCO project, ..etc.   Examples of old buildings that need funding and/or are waiting for projects to be delivered are at Bevier Hall, Newmark  civil engineering, Turner Hall, Main library, ..etc.   There are probably others that I am not thinking of immediately.  We have to find ways to reduce the campus energy load in my opinion.  I agree that space evaluation needs attention.









    Who was included on these emails. The addresses are general lists, so I cannot see who is included. Apparently Karl is one of them. The topic would, on the surface, indicate that it would be appropriate to have UES involved.  But, maybe not. Can you share your thoughts on level of involvement?




    Hi Rob,


    I forwarded the invitation to the Sustainability Subcouncil and Council meetings to you today.  You may recall attending the council meetings last November to talk about the Utilities Master Plan, the F&S Energy Management Plan, and the idea to do a Comprehensive Planning Document, as suggested in the iCAP 2020 and recommended by the Energy iCAP Team.  At that time, the Council agreed that F&S and iSEE should work together to develop a scope for a consultant to develop a comprehensive planning document for how we can meet the carbon-neutral energy goals.


    In the spring, I asked a student group to gather more information about what to include in the scope, and last week UOCP posted an RFP to hire a consultant to update the Deferred Maintenance facility condition assessment (expected to take about a year from when the consultant is on-board).  There are several studies and analysis available and underway, but the specific scope of what we want to hire a consultant to do for this comprehensive energy planning document is not completely resolved. 


    I believe UES should take a very active role in developing the scope for this plan, requesting funding through campus, and seeing it actualized.  The iCAP Teams are advisory and they are advocacy groups, but the authority is still held within the campus hierarchy.  As the Sustainability person in F&S, I am here to assist and facilitate meeting the iCAP objectives.  I propose we officially call this project a UES project, with you as the lead and with me as part of the team helping it happen.  What do you think?





    PS. The iCAP Energy Team includes the following people, and Meredith, Jen, and I get all the iCAP Team emails.  Would you like to get these emails, as well?

    Primary Contact: Tyler Swanson

    Project Leader: Aman Mehta

    Team Members:

    • Paul Foote
    • Yun Kyu Yi
    • Tim Mies
    • Damon McFall
    • Roman Makhenko
    • Andy Stumpf
    • Shannon Anderson
    • Martha Kubakh
    • Karl Helmink, non-voting
    • Mike Larson, non-voting


    Here are the related emails. 


    Hello Morgan,


    Thanks for the detail below. I do agree that the creation of a long term comprehensive energy provision planning document needs heavy involvement from the utility production and distribution staff, along with those with in depth engineering knowledge of end use devices (i.e.; building HVAC, process flows, etc.). Therefore, it does seem appropriate to have UES be the lead in this work.


    I am unclear if your thought is to include this comprehensive energy study with the deferred maintenance study, but I would strongly advocate for them to be separate efforts and documentation.


    I do agree that UES should seek input from the campus community in the development of this plan, and keep the iCAP team as an ally in our efforts. Please include me in any emails and meetings involving this topic as we get started. I would ask that the leadership of the iCAP team be the first to present the topic to executive leadership of the campus in an effort to obtain initial funding. Of course, UES will partner with them do develop the proposal and presentation, but I believe their leadership is crucial to securing the necessary resources to move this initiative forward.


    I am happy to discuss in more detail at your convenience.



  6. Updated FY22 figures for current energy inputs

    Associated Project(s): 

    Below is an email exchange between Morgan White and Tony Spurlock:

    Can you send me the powerpoint for the Source of Energy Supply you requested?







    Hi Tony,


    It is from slide three in the attached file.







    I prepared the graph you requested.  I made some assumptions regarding the numbers to include in the graph based on the previous breakdown.  Please review to make sure these are consistent with your understanding of the previous graph.






  7. 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:

  8. iWG Meeting Minutes 5-23-22

    The iWG met on 5-23-22 and discussed the following agenda. The meeting minutes are attached.

    1. Revisit ZW008
    2. ABE469 – student group worked on developing a scope for the Clean Energy Plan -
    3. Continue discussion on what to include in the scope of Comprehensive Energy Planning Document
    4. Thanks for all of your hard work this year!
    Attached Files: 
  9. This Week in Research - micronuclear

    Associated Project(s): 

    UIUC's plans for a new microreactor were featured in the April edition of "Nuclear News." The article highlights efforts to build a  "research, education, and training facility intended to help advanced reactor technology become a widely deployable, marketable, economic, safe, and reliable option for a clean energy future."

  10. Interview with Paul Foote (Energy Efficiency and Conservation Specialist) and Karl Helmink (F&S Associate Director of Utilities and Energy Services)

    Associated Project(s): 

    A document containing the notes from this interview is attached below.


    Summary of the Clean Energy Transition Plan Interview:

    Paul Foote - Energy Efficiency and Conservation Specialist

    Karl Helmink - F&S Associate Director of Utilities and Energy Services

    On 4/8/2022, the team met with Karl Helmink and Paul Foote. They both stressed an emphasis on energy conservation for the energy plan. They stated that a large problem stopping energy reduction is the “billions of dollars” worth of deferred maintenance that exist in campus buildings. This is in addition to the new buildings being constructed despite existing abandoned building space. They also informed us about the retro-commissioning team that they are both a part of. They reduce energy by an average of 25% for each building retro-commissioned and have saved the university over $100,000,000 in utilities since 2007. They do this by focusing on the “low hanging fruit,” this being scheduling, sensors and some maintenance. They roughly estimate that it will cost about 2 billion dollars to make the steam to hot water transition. This would take many years and about 10 boilers for redundancy. They recommend geothermal but warn that the university already has a lot of underground, so it would need to be placed carefully, possibly on the perimeter of campus. It would also still need a backup system (probably Abbott).

  11. Interview with Mike Larson (F&S Director of Utilities Production)

    Associated Project(s): 

    A document containing the notes from this interview is attached below.


    Summary of the Clean Energy Transition Plan Interview:

    Mike Larson - F&S Director of Utilities Production

    On 4/7/22, the team met with Mike Larson. This interview gave valuable insight on the transitioning to clean energy, as well as the challenges that go along with using renewable sources. In the short term, it is recommended to focus on conservation as well as carbon capture technologies. He does not believe carbon capture is feasible for the long term, but it could be a valuable technology to use while technologies such as nuclear are being developed further. He believes that when nuclear is commercially viable, it will be the best option for campus. He also thinks that electrification of the university could be positive, but only if the grid electricity becomes more renewable. At the moment, the efficiency of Abbot is greater than the electricity sources that power the grid. If the campus were to be electrified and converted to hot water, technology such as heat recovery chillers should also be considered.

  12. Interview with Clark Bullard (Former MechE Professor, Experience in Thermal Systems)

    Associated Project(s): 

    A document containing the notes from this interview is attached below.


    Summary of the Clean Energy Transition Plan Interview:

    Clark Bullard - Former MechE Professor, Experience in Thermal Systems

    On 4/5/22 the team spoke with Clark Bullard. In this meeting, we were provided with valuable insight into the importance of conservation and updating the current steam heating system on campus. In his opinion, the University should focus on conservation mainly and purchase renewable energy from the grid. This would allow more resources to be put towards conservation, where there is currently a lot of energy being lost. Additionally, he stressed the importance of updating the campus heating system to something more modern, such as a hot water and heat pump system. The team found that this interview gave good insight and recommendations on a potential way to approach the energy transition.

  13. Interview with Xinlei Wang (ABE Professor, Experience in Renewable Energy Systems) and John Zhao (ABE Doctorate Student, Research in Geothermal Systems)

    Associated Project(s): 

    A document containing the notes from this interview is attached below.


    Summary of the Clean Energy Transition Plan Interview:

    Xinlei Wang - ABE Professor, Experience in Renewable Energy Systems

    John Zhao-ABE Doctorate Student, Research in Geothermal Systems

    On 4/5/22, the team interviewed Dr. Xinlei Wang and John Zhao. Professor Wang is a subject matter expert with regards to geothermal energy and has done research on other forms of renewable energy. Professor Wang explained that geothermal energy is the most efficient way to both heat and cool buildings and that despite high upfront costs it is a cheaper system to implement than traditional heating and cooling. Professor Wang explained that if the University was to switch to a geothermal system, then it would have to be done building by building and it would take a lot of planning and time. Professor Wang also told the team that geothermal and solar energy can be used together to create an energy efficient system and make it viable for the University.