Northwestern University: Energy performance

Energy Performance
Cumulative (vs. Baseline)16%
Annual (2019)1%

Better Buildings Challenge Partners strive to decrease portfolio-wide source energy use intensity (EUI) and to increase the percent improvement compared to a set baseline. Northwestern University's portfolio consists of 221 buildings and 14.5 million square feet. The University has improved energy performance by 16% from a 2012 baseline, making progress toward a goal of 20% by 2020. 

Projects that have contributed to reductions in energy use intensity include lighting retrofits, building renovations, upgrades to ventilation systems, and repairs to heating and cooling infrastructure. For example, all outdoor light fixtures on the Evanston campus were replaced with LED technology in 2017. Kresge Centennial Hall, an academic building originally constructed in 1955, was renovated in 2016 and received LEED Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council in 2017 thanks to features that include LED lighting and efficient highly efficient heating, and cooling, and ventilation systems. To reduce energy used to in laboratory spaces, Northwestern installed upgraded ventilation systems in eight buildings on campus. The new Aircuity systems adjust ventilation rates based on occupancy and air quality. In addition, starting in 2013, Northwestern’s Facilities Management Team adopted a comprehensive approach to surveying and maintaining steam traps within the system that carries steam from the Central Utility Plant to buildings throughout the Evanston campus.


Looking at the percent improvement in energy performance across all properties can provide insight into how an organization is saving energy. Northwestern University has achieved energy performance improvement of greater than 15% at 43 of its properties. There are 47 properties that have experienced an increase in Source EUI. These properties have been targeted for future energy efficiency improvements. 


Property-level energy performance metrics, including EUI and percent improvement to date, are critical to track progress over time and identify opportunities for additional energy savings. Northwestern University's portfolio includes properties with a wide range of baseline EUI values, most of which are between 50 and 400 kBtu per square foot. The majority of properties have shown improvements in energy use intensity since 2012. The properties in which EUI has not changed or has increased present opportunities for future savings.