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Key Objective: 2.2 Increase Energy Efficiency

The iCAP 2020, objective 2.2 is: “Reduce Energy Use Intensity (EUI) of university facilities from the FY08 baseline by: 45% by FY30, 50% by FY40, and 60% by FY50.” The responsible campus unit for championing this objective is F&S. Progress is tracked in the iCAP Portal project page for Centralized Energy Efficiency Efforts.

Associated Metric

Energy Use Intensity


  • FY 2008:

    iCAP baseline year

  • FY 2015:

    University's goal for 2015 met.



Campus EUI has decreased by 38.2% in the past decade, from 303,649 BTU/GSF in FY08 to 187,656 BTU/GSF in FY19 (Figure 2). These figures are calculated by starting with the total campus energy input (i.e., fuels purchased for Abbott Power Plant and electricity purchased from the regional grid) and subtracting energy for non-campus facilities (e.g., Willard Airport). One noteworthy exception is the National Petascale Computing Facility (Petascale), a unique grant-funded collaboration with the National Science Foundation (NSF) which is removed from the total energy consumption included in the EUI figures. This calculation produces the total campus energy use, which is then normalized against the total campus square footage for the annual EUI.


Figure 2: Annual Campus Energy Use Intensity (EUI) 



Figure 3: Target Reduction of Campus EUI

Objective #2.2 continues our goals for EUI reduction into FY50 (Figure 3). Previous climate action plans targeted a 50% EUI reduction by FY50; this version increases our long-term objective to 60%. Several existing programs to reduce campus EUI are underway, and these must be continued, supported, and expanded. Specifically, we should continue implementing Retrocommissioning (RCx), Recommissioning (ReCx), Energy Performance Contracting, and the LED Campus commitment (see “Relationship to Other Commitments” in the Introduction). 

To leverage the full extent of our resources toward EUI reduction, we must strengthen additional centralized energy efficiency programs. Several of these solutions are expanded upon in the following paragraphs.

Continuation of major energy conservation initiatives

F&S manages several successful energy conservation initiatives. These include RCx, ReCx, Energy Performance Contracting, and the LED Campus commitment. These are the most effective means of reducing energy consumption in campus buildings. The following ideas are options for expanding the impact of these major initiatives.


  • Expand RCx efforts in auxiliary buildings including University Housing, Campus Recreation, and Division of Intercollegiate Athletics (DIA) facilities. Budget policies currently limit RCx efforts at F&S to state-supported facilities; the few auxiliary facilities that have separately funded an RCx project prove that there is great opportunity to improve.  


  • Increase funding for deferred maintenance projects and prioritize projects with an energy efficiency component. Insufficient deferred maintenance funding often results in increased reactive maintenance (i.e., temporary fixes) rather than cost-effective, preventive solutions (e.g., systematic renovation and renewal programs to upgrade facilities). 

  • Allocate campus funds to directly launch additional Energy Performance Contracts and grow the RCx and ReCx programs. ReCx teams were created to revisit retrocommissioned buildings every five years to ensure that buildings continue to run at top efficiency and that the systems and controls are calibrated appropriately. It is anticipated that six ReCx teams would be able to maintain the energy efficiency of major campus buildings through preventative maintenance on a five-year cycle.

Energy codes and energy cost budgets

The Facilities Standards[1] require that new buildings constructed on campus meet strong energy performance standards and are LEED Silver certified at minimum. (Figure 4 provides a yearly overview of LEED-certified campus square footage.) For new campus and auxiliary buildings, major retrofits requiring energy code compliance, and buildings in the design phase, project teams will be required to provide electronic input files for Energy Cost Budget (ECB)  and energy performance modeling using conventional programs. F&S holds the Professional Service Consultants (PSC) responsible for meeting the required deliverables, including quality, quantity, and timeliness. To hold the PSCs accountable for meeting energy codes, F&S intends to complete PSC evaluations on all projects, including evaluations of sub-consultants. Ensuring energy code compliance will necessitate proper staffing levels for the F&S Capital Programs, Design Review, and Commissioning and Inspection departments. 

Using information gathered from capital projects, faculty members and researchers can collaborate with F&S to develop a reference database of calibrated energy models for campus buildings. This might be the product of student classroom projects. The campus could then use these models to prioritize building retrofits and determine the preferred level of improvements (i.e., envelope versus mechanicals) for each building.


Figure 4: LEED-Certified Square Footage on Campus


Building envelope retrofits

Building envelope retrofits should be applied to more campus buildings. While progress in enhancing heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems is underway, there has been little focus on building envelopes. Actionable steps in this area include developing internal campus expertise in this area and identifying viable funding sources. 

F&S staff should consider Building Envelope Commissioning (BEC) and mechanical commissioning (and recommissioning if necessary) for major building projects. 

Reduce peak electricity consumption

A potential pathway toward reducing peak electricity consumption is decreasing peak demand by 20% over the next five years. Electrical demand correlates with a building’s daily use, with the peak occurring when the highest volume of students, staff, and faculty members occupies the space; typically, this is roughly the middle of the day. This is illustrated by the Business Instructional Facility’s (BIF) energy dashboard (Figure 5)[2]. The figure reflects that on March 12 and March 13, 2020, students began leaving campus as a result of the upcoming spring break as well as preliminary course cancellations due to COVID-19. The following Saturday, Sunday, and Monday reported notably reduced electricity usage compared to the previous week (shown as a dotted line on the corresponding days). We plan to monitor how the return to campus will impact energy use to better understand energy usage and to inform long-term changes to decrease our consumption. 



Figure 5: Energy Dashboard Weekly Display from the Business Instructional Facility (BIF)

In FY19, campus used a total of 457.31 million kWh (457,310 MWh) of electricity (Figure 6). We can reduce the peak demand through a combination of increasing efficiency and adjusting campus schedules to flatten the peak throughout the day. COVID-19 safety protocols may require altered schedules in order to reduce building traffic; if so, we will remain mindful of how best to meet the dual demands of public health and sustainability.  


Figure 6: Total Campus Electricity Usage



Project History