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Basement Tour Emanuel

Chicago mayor lauds Roosevelt for saving energy at Auditorium

Posted: 07/29/2014
Roosevelt University’s Auditorium Building has become a showcase for a city of Chicago project in which building owners are being encouraged to reduce energy consumption by 20 percent over the next five years.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel publically kicked off the city’s Retrofit Chicago initiative in July at the Auditorium Building, touring the basement of the 115-year-old landmark structure for a close-up look at new state-of-the-art heating and cooling systems that in some cases are reducing the University’s energy consumption and costs by nearly half. (Above, Roosevelt University chief engineer Gus Kalady (at left center) leads Emanuel and others on a tour of Auditorium's new energy saving systems).  

“It’s a net positive and a win-win for the city,” said Emanuel, who met after the tour with building-operations managers, engineers and sustainability officers whose buildings are part of Retrofit Chicago, which is a broad partnership of 48 buildings containing 37 million square feet of space where energy efficiency is a priority.

Roosevelt and nine other higher education institutions in Chicago are part of the initiative.
  
“We’ve been one of the leaders in energy efficiency and we will be continuing to use the Auditorium Building as a showcase and benchmark for others who are seeking to reduce energy consumption and costs,” said Paul Matthews, Roosevelt’s assistant vice president for campus planning and operations.

Engineers with EmanuelGus Kalady, Roosevelt’s chief engineer, led Emanuel on Auditorium Building basement tour where a model chiller plant with six separate compressors that can gear up or wind down automatically, depending on outdoor temperatures, is reducing energy consumption/costs by as much as 35 percent.  (At right, Roosevelt's engineering team is pictured with the mayor.  From left are: Gus Kalady, chief engineer; Emanuel,  Scott Wrobel, engineer, and Jeff Debrizzio, assistant chief engineer). 

A new boiler plant, with slow-start pumps and energy-efficient-belt fans that save 25 percent or more in natural gas and as much as 50 percent in electricity also were shown to the mayor.

The University’s new centralized building automation system that identifies inefficiencies with heating and cooling equipment in the Auditorium and Wabash buildings, allowing Roosevelt engineers to make upgrades from computers in the basement command center, also is saving considerable time and energy and plans to tie the Auditorium Theatre’s heating and cooling systems into the automation system are in the making. 

Emanuel noted that the steps taken by Roosevelt have cut the Auditorium Building’s bill for utility usage from $1.30 to 76 cents per square foot.  “You’re talking about real money and that’s just one building,” the mayor said.
 
“We’ve transformed a 19th Century building into a modern-day sustainable structure that is a becoming a how-to model for reducing energy consumption and costs,” added Kalady.