Starting in 2006, U of I selected McKinstry as the university’s Energy Services Performance Contractor (ESPC) to develop a capital improvement project that would bring energy cost savings to the university. Over the next several years a wide array of projects were funded to improve systems across campus. Some of the highlights are shown below:
Incandescent lights across campus were replaced with fluorescent in 2007. Older T-12 style lamps were replaced with modern T-8 lamps. This project reduced energy consumption across campus significantly while improving overall lighting quality.
Similar to the lighting retrofit in 2007, a new lighting upgrade is currently underway across campus as lights are converted to LEDs. To date, almost 80,000 lamps have been replaced, with estimated annual energy savings of $400,000.
A 24,000 square foot covered drying facility was built west of the Facilities Management building. Capable of storing over 2,000 tons of wood chips, the facility dries the wood chips before being consumed at the energy plant. Wood chips are layered evenly in the building via an overhead conveyor, which allows natural convection to passively dry the wood chips, reducing moisture content. On a yearly average, the moisture content of the wood chips received by the central energy plant has been reduced by over 10% since the construction of the drying facility. This allows U of I to enjoy significant economic benefits by improving the combustion efficiency of the wood boiler.
Many heating and cooling automated controls on the pumps and fans in building HVAC systems ran at constant speed to maximize flow, which resulted in very low efficiency during part load operations. Significant energy savings were achieved when variable frequency drives (VFDs) were installed on these motors, which allowed the motors to run at lower speeds and provide only the flow needed. VFDs are now an element of the U of I Design and Construction Standards and are included where appropriate in all new construction and renovation efforts.
The south campus chiller plant was built to increase chilled water capacity on campus. Besides installing high efficiency electric chillers, a 2 million gallon chilled water thermal energy storage tank was constructed. Using the tank during the day to meet cooling loads reduces the peak power demand on campus, reducing operating costs significantly. Many worn out and inefficient chillers scattered across campus were no longer needed once the new chiller plant was built. Removing them improved the overall system efficiency and eliminated the need to maintain redundant equipment.