Smarter Energy Consumption at MRL Underway

The Materials Research Lab is just one piece of the puzzle in the Energy Services Company (ESCO) project going on across Engineering at Illinois that will guarantee more than $41 million in cost avoidance over the next 20 years and reduce deferred maintenance by an estimated $15 million. 


For several months, construction crews have already been working within MRL on HVAC upgrades, focusing on the roof and mechanical rooms to set up new duct work. Now, crews are ready to begin the next phase of the project, moving to the internal portion of the building, such as labs, offices, and hallways. 


“The energy conservation measures will help make these world-class research facilities more energy efficient while modernizing essential building systems and equipment,” said Facilities and Services Engineer Specialist Josh Whitson. 


F&S Engineer Specialist Josh Whitson


As the MRL was originally funded in part by the Atomic Energy Commission in the mid-1960s, this is an exciting project for the building — now is the time to modernize its energy savings and consumption. 


Thirteen air handling units on the roof will be replaced with only two large units that will be able to more efficiently handle the scale of the building. Also, the labs within MRL will become “smarter,” according to Whitson — sensors will let the units know if users are present, and heating or cooling of the room for comfort will adjust based on occupancy. 


“These new systems will make sure utilities aren’t being used unnecessarily,” Whitson said. “For a building that is used all hours of the day, like MRL, this is especially important.” 


Take a look at more ESCO project photos on the MRL Facebook Page


Want more information? You can contact Doug Jeffers or Kris Williams.


Keep checking MRL News for more details as the project moves along. Construction is expected to be complete in 2018.