University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Receives System of the Year Award at IDEA2024

The International District Energy Association (IDEA) has announced that the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign received the IDEA System of the Year Award (SOYA) at IDEA2024, the association’s annual conference and trade show held in Orlando, Florida in June.

The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign was recognized for its outstanding district energy system, which integrates energy generation and consumption to manage and reduce system demand, thereby cutting costs and emissions. Central to the system is the Abbott Power Plant, which employs cogeneration to produce both steam and electricity, meeting approximately 85% of the campus’ energy requirements. The system features the Energy Management Control Center for ongoing performance monitoring and enhancement through remote, computerized systems. Additionally, thermal energy storage aids in demand management, while two large-scale solar arrays contribute significantly to achieving campus sustainability objectives.

Over the past 15 years, the campus has achieved a remarkable 40% reduction in energy use per square foot. The Facilities & Services unit of the university continues to enhance efficiencies and invest in initiatives that support ambitious decarbonization goals for the future.

“We are incredibly honored to receive this award,” stated Robert Roman, Director of Utilities & Energy Services, upon acceptance. “This recognition means a great deal to us, as it comes from our peers. Our success is a collective effort involving everyone from our dedicated team at the plant to those managing our distribution system. Sometimes, amidst our daily tasks, we overlook acknowledging the exceptional contributions made by our team.”

The System of the Year Award is IDEA’s highest accolade for a district energy system, acknowledging exceptional performance, reliability, efficiency, and industry leadership while advancing district energy industry objectives.

About the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign:
For more than 150 years, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign has been at the forefront of scholarship, groundbreaking discoveries, and impactful public engagement that shape the world. As the flagship campus of the state, the university offers world-class research, education, and opportunities to nearly 57,000 students annually from across the globe. Spanning 6,370 acres with 651 buildings, the campus serves as a hub where students, faculty, and staff collaborate, learn, and reside.

Utilities & Energy Services (UES) within the Facilities & Services (F&S) unit manages the production, distribution, and operation of campus utilities, ensuring a balanced approach to safety, reliability, sustainability, and cost-effectiveness. Supported by state funding and additional resources from energy conservation grants and allocations from the Student Sustainability Committee, UES integrates cutting-edge technologies and streamlines operations in this $100 million per year utility enterprise.

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