Students walking outside of Lincoln Hall

These portfolio solutions will help UIC achieve its commitment to be a Carbon Neutral Campus and could save UIC over 55,000 MTCO2e annually. These solutions on this page have been updated from what is mentioned in the original report (2018).


A key component of SEM is utilizing technology such as building automation systems and controls that allow for more efficient management of energy systems in buildings.

Building automation systems allow for more granular control of buildings, so they can be powered down selectively during a power shortage or disruption. These systems also allow for better response to extreme variations in temperatures. Through the practice of SEM, UIC will measure and verify savings and build a more resilient infrastructure. Energy reduction will also provide cost savings and produce reinvestment opportunities to address future concerns through the utilization of the Green Revolving Fund.


Strategic Energy Management (SEM) allows for continuous energy performance improvements by providing the processes and systems needed to incorporate energy considerations and management into daily operations.

SEM is a long-term approach which works to institutionalize best practices, in driving increased and sustained energy savings persistence (US EPA’s Energy Star Guidelines for Energy Management).

Core Program Functions of SEM include: (1) Coordination and Resources (relating to solutions 1.1.1 and 1.1.2), (2) Planning and Project Portfolio Management (relating to solution 1.1.1), (3) Tracking and Reporting Systems (relating to solution 1.1.1), (4) Communication and Recognition (relating to solution 1.2.2).

The Office of Capital Planning and Project Management (CPPM)’s Capital Plan includes analysis of buildings and projects from a number of perspectives, including energy efficiency. Additionally, a framework to facilitate project and building prioritization involves categorizing projects on a variety of needs like energy conservation. SEM prioritization should be informed and coordinated with the UIC Capital Plan. Read the list of current capital construction and renovation projects here.

There are four major steps to formalize SEM at UIC.

  1. Add Energy Efficiency function to the Vice- Chancellor of Administrative Services (VCAS) organizational structure. (Completed in FY2019)
  2. Re-establish functional organization and/or unit priorities within VCAS to enhance energy management and outcomes. (Started in FY2019)
  3. Create a dedicated funding mechanism to support program.
  4. Coordinate various energy-related functions through a delegated “Energy Management Team”  including: Associate Chancellor for Sustainability, Deputy Director of Utilities and Energy Services, Director of Physical Plant Project Management, Energy Manager, East and West Side Engineers, Director of VCAS IT, Representative of the Office of Capital Programs and Project Management.


Goal: Decrease campus energy use by 25% by 2028; 10.5% GHG reductions by 2033.

power plant interior

The subsequent development and management of an Energy Conservation Measure (ECM) Portfolio is a central component of SEM. By identifying quick payback energy savings projects, managing funds for energy reduction efforts, ensuring appropriate monitoring and data collection activities, and energy benchmarking in general, a well-developed ECM portfolio can have a massive impact on campus energy use.

Examples of near-term projects that have already been identified include steam trap replacements across buildings on West side, outdoor LED light fixture upgrade projects for East and West side (for West- only Parking Lots and Garages have been modeled), as well as energy retrofit projects for buildings 919 (Molecular Biology Research Building), 924 (College of Pharmacy), 934 (College of Medicine Research Building), and 941 (Administrative Office Building). An Additional funding mechanism is an Energy Performance Contract (EPC) which utilizes and Energy Service Company (ESCO) to audit, implement, measure, verify, and guarantee savings.

Goal: Create GRF with a minimum of $1,000,000 by 2020

SEM funding mechanisms are predicated on the idea that energy efficiency generates cost savings. A Green Revolving Fund (GRF) would provide financing to implement energy efficiency measures and other sustainability-related projects which will generate financial savings. These savings would then be tracked and used to replenish the fund for the next round of projects identified. Achieved utility savings would be returned to this fund until the initial investment has been recovered. This model encompasses the entire anticipated annual investment of $4.633M for FY 2019 – 2027, to achieve the optimal impact of CAIP solution 1.1.1 (SEM: ECM Portfolio). This concept could be implemented on a smaller scale initially as proof of concept.

This program would be implemented through funding that was received from past and future energy saving activities (i.e. ComEd, Peoples Gas, Advancement, Campus). The VCAS, through the OS, could provide $0.5-2M to perform small building energy retro-commissioning, mechanical system upgrades, and installations that would lower energy costs tied to consumption and capacity, as well as reduce GHG emissions. Moreover, this program would be the first to provide UIC-dedicated energy efficiency funds. The OS will also continue to seek other external grants that are available for innovative energy technologies.


Reducing UIC’s energy demand will alleviate an already increased reliance on external electricity purchases. When new buildings are built to replace old ones, or major renovations are undertaken, UIC Building Standards need to ensure that the highest energy efficiency standards are adopted (Solution 1.2.1). In addition, it must be understood that while UIC sets overall goals of lowering water, waste, and energy use, and increasing biodiversity, new buildings have the duty to exceed those goals to offset the environmental impacts of existing inefficient buildings.

Additionally, the occupants of buildings (colleges, departments, units, and individuals) need to be engaged and incentivized to buy efficient equipment and reduce any wasteful energy consuming habits (Solution 1.2.2). In March 2008, UIC participated in a world-wide energy conservation campaign encouraging people to turn off all electronic equipment for one specified hour (Earth Hour), and during that hour UIC consumed 3.7% less electricity compared to the same hour on the previous four Saturdays. Although this campaign saw a relatively small GHG emissions reduction, this indicates that with greater awareness there is potential for reduced energy consumption by modifying behavior.

Goal: All major renovations and new constructions must excedd the most current Illinois Energy Conservation Code as well as be constructed so that the building produces net zero energy by 2050.

Academic Residential Complex, 2019

UIC must follow the 2015 IECC standards, as well as the ASHRAE Standard 90.1 (2013), through design and construction for commercial buildings. This Portfolio Solution requires that UIC go beyond compliance to meet the projected 2025 IECC standard for new buildings, which is roughly 50% less energy intense than the current 2015 standard, as projected by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). This has the potential to save UIC 11,000 MTCO2e GHG annually.

Goal: Reduce campus energy consumption by 1.5% through educating building occupants.

This Portfolio Solution calls for staffing, technology, and best management practices that  would target an annual reduction of 1.5% in campus energy consumption by actively training and educating building occupants on how to shift habits into a more energy conscious manner. Under this project, information about all energy-savings related efforts will be communicated to the campus and beyond. This could save UIC 4,000 MTCO2e annually.