Spotlight Projects

  • Energy Conservation Program Fosters Friendly Competition Across Campus

    Apr 19, 2016

    “Shut the window – we’re not heating the outside. Put a sweater on if you’re cold. Turn off the lights. Do you think I’m made of money?” Sound familiar? Families work together to reduce their utility bills. Given the current state budget impasse and reduced funding for colleges, it is also vitally important for our university family to work on conserving energy and reducing the amount of money spent on utilities.

    ecip-color-logoThe Energy Conservation Incentive Program (ECIP) encourages and incentivizes energy conservation through personal behavior changes and through structural modifications of facilities. Individual building energy consumption is tracked through the Energy Billing System (EBS). Energy conservation is then measured as the percentage difference of energy usage between the current fiscal year and the previous fiscal year after adjusting for heating degree days.

    At the end of each fiscal year, the ECIP selects eight winning facilities that post the largest reduction in energy usage in two categories (Occupant Action and Energy Advancement) and then rewards those facilities with money to be used for facility upgrades. Past winners have installed bike racks, new water fountains, and renovated doors and windows. The Occupant Action category reflects building occupant behavioral changes (turning off lights and computers when not in use, closing windows, scheduling, and reporting heating/cooling problems to Facilities & Services). With 56,000 people on the Urbana campus, there’s a lot of opportunity to conserve energy on a daily basis. Small steps can add up to significant results!

    The Energy Advancement category primarily reflects campus projects such as retrocommissioning work, a controls upgrade project, and/or lighting upgrades that aid in lowering energy usage. Utilities & Energy Services Associate Director Karl Helmink said “Retrocommissioning work done in conjunction with the Lincoln Hall renovation allowed the university to avoid over $250,000 in utility costs per year in this building alone, a roughly 50% reduction in utility costs.”

    Midway through FY16, Ceramics Kiln House is leading in the Energy Advancement category with an impressive 34% drop in energy usage from FY15. How? Retrocommissioning installed occupancy sensors to automatically turn on/off lights and air handling/air conditioning units. Controls were added to fume hoods allowing them to be turned off when not in operation. The department took the lead in implementing improved lab procedures and moved chemicals from fume hoods to chemical storage cabinets that require a lower exhaust rate.

    Talbot Laboratory, Transportation Building, Davenport Hall (2015 ECIP winner), Temple Hoyne Buell Hall, Rehabilitation Education Center, Institute Gov.  & Public Affairs Building, Architecture Building, and the Speech and Hearing Clinic are all showing significant energy reductions for the first 6 months of FY16.  These buildings are the current leaders in the FY16 ECIP competition.

    Conserving energy is everyone’s responsibility. Talk to your facilities liaison about energy conservation projects for your facility. Turn off lights and close windows in empty rooms. Power down computers when you leave.  Shut the sash or turn off fume hood exhaust fans when possible. These actions don’t take much time but will have a big impact on our utility cost bottom line. Remember, it’s never too late to make a difference.  Energy conservation tips we can all use.

  • KoFusion Restaurant

    Apr 11, 2016

    KoFusion Renovating and constructing labs, classrooms, and offices is common place for F&S’ Construction Services, but it’s not every day the group gets to build a satellite location for one of the most popular restaurants in town. Yet, that’s exactly what Construction Project Coordinator John Grice and his team did when they constructed a KoFusion restaurant in the Illini Union food court.

    Completed almost entirely by F&S Crafts & Trades (Petry Kuhne did the structural framing), the approximately 10,000-square-foot space was a vacated Chinese restaurant when work began in November. When the eatery opened in March, the facility had a whole new façade, new walls, ceilings, floors, counters, work space, wiring, lighting, fixtures, and sprinklers.

    “It’s very clean and high-tech looking and really turned out beautifully,” Grice said. “For a small space, it has lot of really nice features. “

    The F&S team had a very tight construction schedule. It began work Nov. 2 and was required to be done by January 4. F&S met its deadline, but last-minute Champaign-Urbana Pubic Health District requests and slow delivery of owner-supplied equipment delayed the opening of KoFusion until March.

    “We were ready, willing, and able to accommodate any changes to get this thing open,” Grice said. “There were a lot of off-the-cuff fixes that we were able to take care of.”

    Now that F&S’ work is done, Grice said he is looking forward to trying out the new restaurant, but has a piece of advice for would-be-patrons.

    “Get there early or come late, because it’s going to be busy,” he said. “You would not believe the number of students who came by and were looking at the work. There were so many people so anxious for this space to open.”

  • Green GPS Research

    Feb 11, 2016

    A university professor’s GPS research study has come to an end with valuable results, thanks to help from F&S’ Transportation Services.

    In July 2012, Green GPS, a software interface designed by Illinois Associate Professor of Computer Science Tarek Abdelzaher, was installed in several F&S vehicles to collect data on energy consumption in transportation systems. The equipment used the vehicle’s on-board diagnostics system to upload information about engine performance and fuel efficiency to a cellular phone, which then used the data to calculate the most fuel efficient or “green” route.

    “While we never rolled out the originally contemplated full-scale deployment, the small deployment we did have with F&S help was very valuable to our research,” Abdelzaher said. “The project ultimately resulted in an improved ‘GPS navigator’ that finds fuel-efficient routes for vehicles between user-specified end-points. The most fuel-efficient route was often shown to be different from the shortest or fastest route.  Furthermore, the savings when using our navigation software were shown to be better than some of the alternative fuel-saving navigation technologies, like Garmin Eco.”