In the spring of 2024, Concordia University Chicago will take a significant step toward creating a more sustainable campus when a new primary air conditioning plant is brought online. The University’s current system comprises two natural gas water chillers dating back to 1964 and 1989.

6E0A9792-F6C5-4390-A539-E729A4556B6D.jpg“We are fortunate to have far exceeded the recommended lifespan of both units,” says Glen Steiner, CUC’s associate vice president for operations. “As we began investigating options to upgrade our cooling plant, one of our primary considerations was ensuring that the new equipment was much more energy efficient and environmentally friendly.”

In partnership with the engineering firm Martin Peterson Company of Kenosha, WI, CUC conducted a thorough study of the campus’ needs and goals. This led to the determination that the new plant should be electrically driven and compressor based. Converting the power source from natural gas to electric supports decarbonization, which involves the reduction of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas-based emissions. Specifically, the installation of the new system, which is currently underway, will ultimately lead to an annual reduction of 44,000 MMBtu in natural gas consumption.

The project aligns with the Village of River Forest’s goal of enhancing the community’s quality of life through sustainable practices that conserve natural resources, specifically reducing the utilization of fossil fuels by electrifying the University’s cooling system. Steiner adds, “We are proud to align this project with the village’s goals and of our continued contributions to making River Forest an amazing place to study, work and live.”

The new system will be tested in April 2024 and is expected to begin cooling the campus in May.