Wednesday, March 2, 2011

UIC Geothermal Case Study

Going Underground on Campus Cover

National Wildlife Federation Campus

Tapping the Earth for Clean, Efficient Heating and Cooling

As a founding organization of the climate action movement, the mission of NWF’s Campus Ecology is to foster climate leadership on campuses nationwide and to protect wildlife and our children’s future against the growing threat of global climate change. This report presents a scientific overview of global warming and a review of the business, educational and moral arguments for confronting this problem. Case studies from a diverse group of leading campuses illustrate energy-conserving and emissions-saving projects, effective financing strategies and creative ways to involve the campus community.
Article on UIC (p. 33)

University of Illinois at Chicago

System – A large vertical closed-loop field provides heating and cooling for two renovated buildings on campus, and a third structure will soon be added to the system. In total, the system is calculated to satisfy eighty percent of the maximum load of all three buildings. It started with Grant Hall, a 15,000 square-foot office and classroom building which was renovated in 2007. Its loop field required 14 boreholes drilled 500 feet deep. Based on Grant Hall’s success, a 50-borehole loop field drilled 500 feet deep was added in the same area and hooked up to the newly renovated 25,000 square-foot Lincoln Hall. This 1960s-era classroom building reopened in late 2009. The loop field also was designed to accommodate nearby Douglas Hall, the 25,000 square-foot home of the business school which is undergoing renovation in 2010.

Highlights – Grant Hall’s $190,000 geothermal system cost was primarily funded by the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation, with the remainder from UIC funds designated for renovations of classroom and laboratory space. (The subsequent 50 wells cost approximately $650,000 to install.) To date, the Grant Hall system is performing better than originally expected, achieving an estimated eighteen percent in energy savings over the former heating system and contributing to a fifty percent cut in overall energy use for the building since the renovation. As reported by Cynthia Klein-Banai, Associate Chancellor for Sustainability, the
geothermal HVAC equipment provides more comfortable heating and cooling than was delivered previously by the central heating plant. With geothermal, it is easy to maintain a 72° temperature year-round. In the past, complaints about inconsistent temperatures were common, especially during the transition seasons of spring and fall.

Challenges –Proving that adding the geothermal systems provided an economic benefit was a challenge with each of the three buildings. Savings were calculated based on energy models for Lincoln Hall, but the data has been inconclusive, due in part to the fact that, in the past, the buildings were not metered individually for the steam or chilled water coming from the
central plant. Also, the combined square footage of the three buildings adds up to only about one percent of the total 7,000,000 square-feet on campus. While it is clear that overall energy consumption in the buildings is lower, electricity use has increased somewhat due to running the geothermal pumps and compressors.

Takeaway – Asked about the future of geothermal at UIC, Klein-Banai noted that “UIC has a mandate from campus administration and the University of Illinois Board of Trustees to reduce its energy consumption. Now that we have seen the success of geothermal, the board would like to see it used to the extent possible on all three University of Illinois campuses.” The success of geothermal systems is also helping propel the university’s sustainability dialog among students, faculty and staff. UIC currently is developing a formal policy on green building and energy through the Chancellor's Committee on Sustainability and Energy which will be an integral part of UIC’s climate action plan.

“The geothermal system is a good example of how the three interlocking circles of sustainability work together; environmental—by reducing fossil fuel consumption and carbon emissions, social— by making a better learning environment, and economic— by saving money.”
–Cynthia Klein-Banai, Associate Chancellor for Sustainability

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