Northwestern University: Energy performance

Energy Performance
Cumulative (vs. Baseline)27%
Annual (2020)7%

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. The University owns and operates 220 buildings, totaling over 16 million square feet, in the City of Evanston and the City of Chicago. The University has improved energy performance by 27% from a 2012 baseline, meeting and surpassing its goal of 20% by 2020. Energy consumption during 2020 was significantly lower than a typical year since COVID-19 disruptions resulted in temporary building closures and reduced occupancy for much of the year.

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 highly efficient heating, cooling, and ventilation systems. To reduce the energy used 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.