UEM’s innovative strategies earn honorable mention for UT

Reducing energy consumption on a campus that has doubled in size over the last 40 years, and continues to grow at an aggressive pace, is a challenge that UT’s Utilities and Energy Management (UEM) tackles on a daily basis. Energy Management and Optimization (EMO), one of UEM’s four major units, is tasked specifically with improving energy efficiency across campus and implementing long-term solutions to lower overall energy usage. One such solution was the Thermal Energy Storage Dispatch Optimization project. Finalized in 2018, the program saves the university more than $1 million annually in fuel costs. Earlier this summer, the project earned an Honorable Mention for innovation at the 110th Annual Conference and Trade Show of the International District Energy Association (IDEA). This brought global recognition to UT’s innovative practices and further established the university’s position as a leader in university utilities.

At the heart of the program are the two thermal energy storage (TES) tanks that hold a combined 10 million gallons of chilled water. This storage capacity, and the technology behind it, allows UEM to cut back significantly on chilling station operations (i.e., energy costs) and optimize the campus district cooling system. In other words, the tanks play a major role in keeping our costs down and our buildings cool – even when temperatures hover in the triple digits for weeks at a time.

“Our commitment to supporting both Utilities and Buildings Ops, and collaborating with campus stakeholders, has been a key factor in achieving these high levels of efficiency,” stated Roberto Del Real, associate director for EMO. “We feel pretty happy to know our efforts are recognized and to have received this honorable mention, as systems from all over the world compete for the innovation award.”

Roberto Del Real, AD, Energy Management and Optimization; Juan Ontiveros, AVP, Utilities, Energy and Facilities Management; and Nick Schroeder, plant energy manager with award
Aug. 16, 2019