Loomis Lab wins energy conservation award

Siv Schwink

Illinois Physics facilities manager Jerry Cook holds the ECIP energy conservation award plaque to be mounted in the Walnut Hallway.
Illinois Physics facilities manager Jerry Cook holds the ECIP energy conservation award plaque to be mounted in the Walnut Hallway.
Loomis Laboratory has been awarded a third-place prize in the Energy Conservation Incentive Program of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. This program, administered by Facilities and Services, both funds and recognizes efforts to reduce energy consumption through facilities upgrades. A plaque commemorating the award will be mounted in the Walnut Hallway. The award comes with a $26,000 prize for additional energy projects.

Head of Department and Professor Matthias Grosse Perdekamp comments, “This award recognizes a significant reduction in our building’s energy consumption, which of course is always an important goal. But this reduction happens to come at a time when the university is restructuring its budget so that units will be responsible for paying utility bills out of their own budgets—in prior years, utilities had always been paid out of the campus budget. So this will really help our already overstretched departmental budget. Our facilities manager Jerry Cook has done an excellent job of managing this largescale, long-term project for us, so that we would see the maximum benefit from it.”

Cook said the energy savings represent a reduction in “the big three”: electrical consumption, chilled-water consumption, and steam consumption. Upgrades to Loomis Lab funded through the program included room occupancy sensors, pipe insulation, air-duct cleaning, air-handling unit replacement, heat recovery system modifications, and new exhaust fans.

“Really, this is the latest effort in what’s been a 10-year commitment to reducing our carbon footprint,” Cook shares. “The first sweep, funded by Facilities and Services and the department, involved retrofitting our air handling units, which resulted in an 18 percent reduction in electrical, chilled water, and steam consumption. The second sweep four years later was a project funded by a student fee called Academic Facility Maintenance Assessment (AFMA). We were able to upgrade air handling units and lighting for the basement and first floor and we installed ‘light harvesters’ in the lobby, so that the level of natural light determines how much electrical light is turned on at any given time.”

This third sweep, now being recognized, started about 5 years ago when the university’s energy performance contracting program identified Loomis Lab as one of the five highest utility users on campus (after VetMed had completed its energy efficiency upgrades). Facilities and Services used energy performance contracting (EPC) to leverage guaranteed future energy savings to fund the project. The contract was fulfilled by an accredited energy service company (ESCO).

With the ESCO project complete, all 14 air handling units in Loomis Lab have now been replaced with state of the art digitally controlled units. Additional energy savings are being realized thanks to the installation of light sensors throughout offices, labs, and hallways, which are set to shut off after 30 minutes of no occupancy.

Cook says the ESCO project is nearing completion—a punch list of final tasks are currently being addressed to close out the project by the end of the year.

 “The ESCO project replaced nine units in the penthouse with three really large units,” he adds. “The new system removed the 9 reheats we had, which were highly inefficient, so we save on steam consumption there. At the same time, the chilled water temperature for the air conditioning was raised between 5 and 9 degrees, using less energy there. These upgrades mean that the building is not only more efficient, it’s more comfortable—there is a more balanced indoor temperature, even through the extreme variation in outdoor temperature during the change of seasons. It was a great project. The prize belongs to everyone who worked on or endured disruption during the project.”

Cook and Grosse Perdekamp are meeting with engineers to determine the best energy-saving project to fund with the $26,000 prize money.



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