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Reduce Emissions from Energy Consumption (Ongoing)

As of the metrics available for FY14, 88% of our greenhouse gas emissions result from on-site combustion and grid electricity purchases that heat, cool, and provide electricity to campus buildings.  Consequently, achieving our carbon neutrality goal will require both a strong building energy conservation program and also a shift in our energy generation and purchasing towards renewable sources.  While both of these elements are critical and must be pursued by our campus, energy conservation is considered to be a top priority as it leads directly to both emissions reductions and cost savings that can facilitate even further emission reductions.

Emission Factors

As of FY14, the emission factors for the following forms of energy used on campus are as follows:

  • Electricity: 0.821 kg CO2 / kWh
  • Propane: 5.22 kg CO2 / gallon
  • Steam: 28.9 kg CO2/ 1000 pounds of steam


The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is a micro-urban environment, which by day is a vibrant city of 50,000 that becomes a downtown with 12,000 residents at night.  It affords a unique opportunity to demonstrate and test the integrated and optimized operation of a smart grid, demand side management and commodity purchases in real time.

Campus owns and operates a Combined Heat and Power (CHP) Plant that generates electricity from the steam it produces to heat the majority of the campus buildings through an extensive network of central system utility networks.  The plant can currently produce 850,000 pounds per hour of steam while generating 64 megawatts of electricity and integrates combined cycle systems that are fired from various fuels including natural gas, coal, and fuel oil (bio-mass co-firing is pending requested permit).  Coupling the in-house production capacity with a single connection to the grid provides the potential to aggregate all university loads and select the most cost effective source to meet those loads.  This potential is enhanced by the ability to access markets through forward hedging and spot market purchase via Prairieland Electric Inc. (PEI), a for profit corporation with all stock owned by the University.  PEI is a market participant in the Midwest Independent System Operations (MISO), the Midwest’s independent Regional Transmission Organization (RTO), and has access to wholesale gas through a University owned and operated natural gas transmission pipeline.

To complement the electrical and heating systems the University has developed a Central Chilled Water System (CCWS) that serves over 30,000 tons of cooling load and incorporates a 6 million gallon (50,000 tons) Thermal Energy Storage (TES).  This system allows a shift from on-peak time of day electrical consumption to off-peak consumption which not only provides significant cost savings with the Time of Day Pricing but also utilizes more efficient off-peak electrical generation assets.

Access to the Energy Billing System (EBS) can be requested from


Carbon Emissions from Energy (MTE)

Total Annual Energy Consumption


  • FY 2005:

    1 Million MMBTU’s is one million million mmbtus, or one trillion BTUs. 1 x 10^12.

Total Coal Use at Abbott Power Plant (MMBTU)

Total Electric Usage for all of campus in kilowatt-hours (kWh)

Total Natural Gas Use (MMBTU)

Recent Project Updates

  • 4/4/2023

    Hi Rob,

  • 12/16/2022

    A UIUC student created a video about the UIUC energy systems and submitted it to the 2023 IDEA Student Video Contest.