Energy Initiatives

Jump to an environmentally sustainable project:

Campus Energy Management System

All new construction projects (and renovation projects, where feasible) will include installation of Direct Digital Control (DDC) systems linked to the Campus Building Management System (BMS). The BMS is a central, computer-based platform that allows for refined and fully integrated control of the Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system, plumbing, and lighting systems. This energy management system enables the University to deliver comfort to building occupants without sacrificing the efficiency of the building systems.

Energy efficiency

New construction projects (and renovation projects, where applicable) will be designed to provide at least a 20 percent improvement over energy code requirements where technically feasible and where payback is reasonable

Running on green power

Northwestern has been consitently ranked in the top ten of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's list of Top 20 College & University Green Power Purchasers.

Occupancy sensors

Occupancy sensors significantly reduce electrical usage by automatically turning off lights when these spaces are not occupied, and have been installed in a number of campus offices, conference rooms, classrooms and restrooms. Approximately 6,500 rooms in educational buildings on the Evanston campus have occupancy sensors, as well as 500 on the Chicago campus and 800 in the Feinberg School of Medicine. The sensors have a dual-mode of operation (infra-red and ultrasonic) to ensure that lights remain on while the space is occupied.

De-lamping and lighting modifications

Site surveys conducted in 2006 and 2007 identified that many spaces at the University had either too many lighting fixtures or inefficient lighting. Since approximately one-third of annual electrical usage can be attributed to lighting, the University set out to address both issues through an ongoing retrofit project. Outdated and inefficient lighting across both the Evanston and Chicago campuses are being replaced with new technologies that offer improved light output at reduced energy consumption. For example, T8 fluorescent lamps are being replaced with electronic ballasts, compact fluorescent lamps and LED technologies. As part of this process, spaces that were identified as being over-lit are permanently delamped.

Energy conservation

The University has undertaken a number of other steps to reduce our energy usage and lower our utility costs. They include:

  • Optimizing the efficiency and cost effectiveness of the steam and chilled water generation and distribution systems through revised machine selection, staging, load controls and variable control points.
  • Implementing control strategies such as demand control to match the HVAC system operations to the real-time building loads. This significantly reduces over-ventilating unoccupied building spaces without sacrificing comfort or safety, for example.
  • Retrofitting existing HVAC systems to operate in accordance with current industry best practices and design paradigms.
  • Decommissioning unused fume hoods
  • Installing Energy Star-labeled appliances, where applicable.