Overall Rating Silver - expired
Overall Score 51.19
Liaison Jim Walker
Submission Date Jan. 31, 2011
Executive Letter Download

STARS v1.0

University of Texas at Austin
IN-2: Innovation 2

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.00 / 1.00 Juan Ontiveros
Utilities and Energy Management
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

A brief description of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:

The University of Texas at Austin proudly submits the recent installation of Optimum HVAC at Chilling Station #6 as an Innovation in our 2010 STARS report.

The 140-megawatt Hal C. Weaver Power Plant meets the university’s needs 24 hours a day, every day of the year with the following services:
• Electricity—we generate electrical power at 12,000 volts and 4,160 volts for distribution throughout the campus.
• Steam—we generate steam at 425 psi and 710 F for use in the plant, as well as at 160 psi for distribution throughout the campus to provide building heat, heat for hot water, and auxiliary services.
• Compressed Air—we provide air for use in campus buildings and laboratories.
• Demineralized Water—we provide about 8 million gallons of demineralized water to the campus for laboratory use.
• Chilled Water—we distribute about 140,000,000 ton-hours of chilled water through more than 6 miles of chilled water lines to provide air conditioning to the campus. Our peak flow rates are continually rising as campus space is added. In the summer of 2008, our peak load was about 33,000 tons and 60,000 gallons per minute of 39ºF water flowing to meet campus cooling needs. This is equivalent to the air-conditioning needs of 6,600 average houses.

UT Austin has been energy-independent since 1928. The campus is connected to the power grid only for emergencies. In recent decades, as the campus has grown, the University has met the increased demand without adding generating capacity. All 17 million square feet of buildings are cooled from four plants, with a peak cooling capacity of 35 thousand tons. By steadily improving the efficiency of those plants, UT keeps up with campus expansions. When a chiller plant recently had to be replaced, rather than build a conventional chiller plant that would need to be made more efficient, Utilities and Energy Management Director Juan Ontiveros convinced the University to build a state-of-the-art model that would meet its cooling needs for years to come. Ontiveros decided that the plant would be an all-variable-speed and flow, a definite departure from conventional design. The plant's output can be modulated so that it exactly meets the demand at any given moment.

UT ran the new plant for six months before activating the optimum energy technology, called OPTIMUM-HVAC. That gave the University a before-and-after comparison of plant efficiency. The savings we have experienced so far have already paid for the Optimum Energy Systems software (around $200,000). This represents a less than one-year payback. The dashboard that Optimum Energy provides as part of their software shows an ongoing comparison of what the University would be 'spending' with and without the system, 24/7. We view actual savings are on CO2 and power and fuel in dollar calculations.

The result of these innovations is a significant savings to the state of Texas, with a plant that will be paid for out of the on-campus revenue it generates. Current projections are to save on the order of a half million dollars a year. Ontiveros states: "Not only do you save money, not only can you pay for it by using the savings, you actually are helping the environment. I mean, last year we were able to finish the year at 1977 energy levels. The campus that year, 1977, had nine million square feet. Now we serve 17 million with the same amount of fuel...Last year we finished the year with emissions 17% below the Kyoto protocol. That's something that we're proud of. And it came as a by-product of paying attention to efficiency and creating a culture of efficiency."

A letter of affirmation from an individual with relevant expertise:
The website URL where information about the innovation is available:

Our letter of affirmation consists of an article release from Optimum Energy confirming the innovative nature of the Chilling Station #6 installation at UT Austin. This article further illustrates the benefits UT Austin is realizing from our push to go "above and beyond" in seeking energy savings and efficiency.

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.