University of Texas at Austin wins 2018 System of the Year Award

By District Energy posted 06-26-2018 15:14


System of the Year 2018

The 2018 System of the Year Award was presented by Bob Smith of RMF Engineering at the conclusion of IDEA's 109th Annual Conference and Trade Show in Vancouver, BC, on June 13, 2018. Bob Smith noted that “UT Austin serves as paragon of efficiency and innovation providing highly reliable energy to a mission-critical campus. As an organization, IDEA is pleased to recognize the cumulative effort and investment that goes into operating such a benchmark system. This year was an especially competitive process, with many notable IDEA member systems under consideration.  Ultimately, UT Austin achieved the highest score across all categories and was a unanimous selection of the review committee.”

University of Texas at Austin

The award was accepted by Juan Ontiveros, P.E., Associate Vice President for Utilities, Energy and Facilities Management at UT Austin, who said “We are very pleased to be recognized with this award by IDEA and our industry peers.  We are quite  proud of the work we do as a team here at UT Austin and are happy to share with the industry the steps we have taken to improve overall system efficiency and reduce energy and water use. Our investments in optimizing system efficiency and reliability have paid tremendous dividends in energy, water and emissions savings, enabling our campus to focus on its core mission of educating tomorrow’s leaders. Many of the innovations we have implemented have come from fellow IDEA member companies and are readily available for others to deploy right now.”

Ranked among the biggest and best research universities in the country, The University of Texas at Austin has earned the distinction among its peers as the most efficient university utility in the U.S.  Supporting a community of more than 70,000 students, faculty and staff, UT Austin’s district energy microgrid includes 135 MW of on-site CHP electricity generation, 60,600 tons of chilled water capacity, 1.2 million pounds per hour of steam, 9.1 million gallons of thermal energy storage, turbine inlet air cooling, advanced controls and energy management, all operating with over 99.999% reliability over the last 35 plus years. 

UT Austin’s Combined Heat and Power system was commissioned in 1929 and has evolved steadily over the years to self-generate 100% of all campus electricity, heating, and cooling needs. Today, the primary fuel used is natural gas. And while the University acknowledges that natural gas is considered one of the cleanest fossil fuels available, it is still a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions. However, the high thermal efficiencies (82-87% annually) means that producing energy for 20 million square feet and over 150 buildings with CHP has avoided the cumulative release of 862,000 tons of carbon dioxide since 1996, equivalent to taking nearly 164,630 cars off the road. UT Austin is so successful at efficiency optimization that their energy system has helped the campus lower its CO2 emissions to 1976 levels, while the campus has grown by over 40 percent since then.

View Submission

University of Texas at Austin Award Application