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Energy Conservation Policy

Policy Statement

It is the policy of Northwestern University to design and establish a fundamental institutional commitment to environmental responsibility and to implement methods to reduce energy consumption and related costs while maintaining a comfortable and environment in campus facilities.

Reason for Policy

The purpose of this energy policy is to establish the framework for acceptable protocols, practices, and operational standards with regards to energy conservation practices within Northwestern University facilities.


This policy is relevant to the entirety of Facilities Management at both the Evanston and Chicago campuses across its schools and colleges.


Energy use intensity (EUI): expresses a building’s energy use as a function of its size or other characteristics. EUI is expressed as energy per square foot per year. It is calculated by dividing the total energy consumed by the building in one year (measured in thousand British thermal units (kBtu) by the total gross floor area of the building.

Retro-commissioning: a systematic process to improve an existing building’s performance. Using a whole-building systems approach, retro-commissioning seeks to identify operational improvements that will increase occupant comfort and save energy.

ASHRAE Level 2 energy audit: evaluates the building energy systems in detail to define a variety of potential energy-efficiency improvements. This process includes the building envelope, lighting, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC), domestic hot water (DHW), plug loads, and compressed air and process uses.

Measurement and verification: the process for quantifying savings delivered by an energy efficiency measure.


A. All Evanston and Chicago Northwestern University buildings and facilities will be operated in the most energy efficient and integrated manner so that we can focus our energy strategies on constructing and maintaining a university that educates, enriches and engages.

B. Northwestern will demonstrate commitment to our community and leadership in our industry by reducing environmental impacts associated with our building energy use.

C. Northwestern University will set and publish energy performance targets, represented as energy use intensity (kBtu/SF) and will monitor and evaluate performance levels on a monthly basis as part of the Facilities Management business review. Our goal is to reduce our energy use intensity by 20% by 2020 from the 2010 baseline. Energy conservation goals will be revisited annually to evaluate operational challenges and opportunities that will impact performance in the longer term.

D. Energy consumption for all university owned, operated and managed buildings will be benchmarked in ENERGY STAR’s Portfolio Manager tool.

E. All buildings will continue to target energy efficiency improvement measures to the greatest extent possible through ongoing Strategic Energy Management planning, retro-commissioning, and ASHRAE Level 2 energy audits. Northwestern will undertake all necessary steps to fund efficiency strategies, and upon securing available funds, expeditiously implement identified measures. All implemented improvement measures will undergo a pre and post measurement and verification process.

F. Northwestern University will promote the use of cost-effective, renewable energy sources whenever possible, both in new construction and existing building renovations.

G. Northwestern University will actively seek sources of funding to implement energy efficient improvements and utility infrastructure renewal projects, including federal, state, and private sector grant opportunities. In the event these outside funding sources are unavailable or inadequate to meet project requirements, Northwestern University shall review priorities within capital infrastructure funds on an annual basis.

H. Northwestern University will cooperate with federal, state, and local governments and other organizations (e.g. Nicor Gas, ComEd, Department of Energy, Environmental Protection Agency, City of Evanston and City of Chicago’s benchmarking Ordinance, and other governing agencies) in accomplishing energy conservation and utility management objectives.

I. Northwestern University has a designated Energy Efficiency Committee with the responsibility and authority to implement this policy and identify energy saving opportunities within the Energy and Utility Campus Master Planning efforts.

J. The Energy Efficiency Committee is a three-tiered governance body that is made up of an energy conservation working group that includes the chief of electrical, chief of DDC energy systems, and chief of HVAC. The Energy Efficiency Committee is co-chaired by the director of operations and the sustainability director. The committee meets on a monthly basis to review ongoing conservation initiatives with the executive sponsors: the director of strategic initiatives; director of planning; director of design, director of construction; director of finance and administration; director of human resources, and director of real estate. The committee meets quarterly with the executive board or the vice president of Facilities Management.

K. The Energy Efficiency Committee will monitor monthly energy usage for Evanston and Chicago Northwestern campuses against energy saving goals and required benchmarks and will report results to the Sustainability Council and Built Environment Working Group. The committee is responsible for managing and mitigating energy consumption in order to:

  1. Avoid unnecessary expenses,
  2. Improve cost-effectiveness, productivity, and working conditions,
  3. Reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect the environment,
  4. Gain control over the university’s energy consumption by reviewing and improving purchasing, operating, motivation and training practices, and
  5. Improve faculty, staff, and student awareness and encourage the sharing of experiences and expertise.

Energy Procurement Strategy

L. The Energy Efficiency Committee and the Energy Purchasing Committee will determine fossil fuels and electricity supply needs, evaluate risk, and develop purchasing strategies to maximize budget certainty, avoid market volatility, and purchase fossil fuels and electricity at the most competitive market prices.

M. The Energy Purchasing Committee will strategize to minimize storage, transportation, and other charges; maintain accurate records of purchases for comparison with other purchasing strategies; and perform market analysis, benchmarking and other energy use evaluations.

N. The Energy Efficiency Committee will regularly evaluate current operational procedures and recommend future improvements to ensure a continuous and appropriate supply of fossil fuels and electricity is delivered daily to meet Northwestern University’s needs.


Unless noted otherwise, the latest versions of the following standards shall be followed:

a. Illinois Energy Conservation Code; International Energy Conservation Code 2015; ASHRAE 90.1. American Society of Heating Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers Energy Efficiency Standard 90.1 for Non-Residential Buildings.

b. LEED. Leadership in Environmental and Energy Efficient Design, Existing Buildings, New Construction, and Core and Shell.

c. International Performance Measurement & Verification Protocol (IPMVP) Volume III: Concepts and Options for Determining Energy Savings in New Construction.

d. ASHRAE Guidelines: The Commissioning Process.

e. USGBC Treatment of District or Campus Thermal Energy in LEED V2 and LEED 2009 –Design and Construction.

f. The City of Evanston and Chicago Energy Benchmarking Ordinance

g. Northwestern’s Design and Construction Guidelines h. Northwestern’s Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing Specifications


If you have any questions about the Energy Conservation Policy contact sustainNU at 847.467.3772 or