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Insulating blankets reduce Illinois State’s yearly energy consumption

Illinois State University’s Office of Energy Management completed a project on campus to cut energy consumption, a project that awarded the Office of Energy Management a rebate check from Nicor Gas for $35,030. This project cut gas consumption by 46,000 therms per year by installing insulating blankets on steam fittings, such as valves, to reduce the amount of heat lost throughout the system.

The installation of the insulating blankets is projected to save the university $20,000 per year by reducing the amount of heat lost from the steam to the air surrounding the pipes, and with the rebate received for the completion of the project, Illinois State will begin seeing a payback from the project in a little more than three years. The blankets were installed over a six-month period by the University’s pipe-fitter shop, with Brady Mann, a university engineer, overseeing the project.

“This project was important to the people at Illinois State because it is part of our continuing efforts to reduce our utility usage to save money and to reduce our impact on the environment,” said Christopher Homan, director of the Office of Energy Management. “These efforts have provided a good return on investment to the University while reducing the emissions associated with these utilities.”

This new development will not only help the environment and the University’s utilities budget but is also providing direct benefits to the safety and comfort of the university maintenance staff. “The reduction of the heat that radiated from the exposed piping and valves makes working in close proximity to this equipment much better and results in a cooler equipment room as well,” said Richard Marr, the pipe-fitting supervisor on the project. “My guys can now work on or around these valves without fear of getting burned by exposed metal.”

While this project will provide savings for both the University and the environment, this preservation of gas is only the first step towards a more energy-efficient campus. The Office of Energy Management has many more projects to complete to reduce energy consumption throughout the system. Such projects include switching out lights on campus to more energy-efficient LED lights, adjusting HVAC schedules so that heating and cooling systems are not running when buildings such as Milner Library, the State Farm Hall of Business, and the Metcalf Lab School are unoccupied, and installing heat recovery systems in Watterson Towers so that heating and cooling energy is not lost and can be recycled to heat or cool fresh air coming into the building.

Illinois State is a member of AASHE (the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education), an organization that measures and tracks the sustainability performance of more than 700 colleges and universities in 21 countries around the world.

For more information, contact Chris Homan, director of Energy Management, at choman@IllinoisState.edu.