UI vet college eyes 40 percent energy reduction after $22 million overhaul

UI vet college eyes 40 percent energy reduction after $22 million overhaul

Sep 01, 2011

URBANA, ILL. — Over the next 18 months, the University of Illinois (UI) College of Veterinary Medicine will undergo a transformation that could reduce energy consumption by as much as 40 percent.

Joe Kunkel, director of facilities for the veterinary college, says that university officials have wanted to "go green" for awhile but have been limited by funding.

Last year, UI partnered with Energy Systems Group, an energy service company (or ESCO), that finances utility upgrades based on the long-term savings anticipated. For the veterinary college, the project will cost about $22 million but will take less than 18 years to recapture those costs from energy savings. About $18 million of the costs are being financed, with about $2 million from an approved student-fee contribution, another $750,000 from F&S utilities and energy services, and nearly $250,000 from the veterinary college.

The improvements, over 18 years, will cut the veterinary college's carbon footprint by about 17 million pounds, according to UI. That's the equivalent of 1,400 vehicles being taken off the highway each year.

Construction started last month and will be rather disruptive to those at the veterinary college for the next 18 months, UI says. Plans call for a mechanical and control systems overhaul, ventilation system replacement and cleaning, switching out high-efficiency lighting and adding new roofing. Air handlers, fans and coils will be overhauled or replaced along with the conversion of nearly 100 fume hoods, ventilation and lighting systems with occupancy sensors. Energy recovery wheels will be added to the new air handlers, and more efficient cooling towers will be installed at the complex too.