New Engineering Classroom Building - Pursuing LEED Platinum

University of Illinois

The University of Illinois’ new College of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) building is the first on the university’s campus and among the first in the state to pursue a "net zero ready" design approach. The facility’s innovative design is modeled to reduce energy consumption by 50%, achieving as close to Net Zero as was feasibly possible for the university. The facility’s design and construction is on target to achieve LEED Platinum and receive an EPA Energy Star rating of 99 on a 100-point scale.


The 230,000-square-foot facility houses high-tech instructional classrooms, 21 labs, student lounges, an instructional clean room, student organizational offices, 11 teaching assistant meeting rooms, study rooms, faculty offices, and a 400-seat auditorium – one of the largest gathering spots on campus.


Minimizing the facility’s carbon footprint and optimizing energy efficiency were key drivers for the University. An extensive collaborative planning and design process – involving the architect, IMEG, and owner -- involved extensive energy modeling and net zero energy analysis of innovative, alternative designs to meet the goals of the building. A computer-based energy simulation evaluated the building energy use. The energy savings were compared to a minimal code-compliant baseline building per LEED requirements. The results were compared to historical data for similar facilities to confirm the validity of the results. Numerous energy simulations and life-cycle cost analyses evaluated the various energy-saving technologies.


Chosen energy-saving infrastructure and strategies include displacement ventilation in classrooms, auditorium and atrium; chilled beam cooling system for offices, labs, and corridors; airside economizer; energy recovery wheels on ventilation air; variable frequency speed drives; heat recovery chillers with net metering (excess hot and cold water is sold back to campus systems); reduced lighting density; energy-efficient LED and fluorescent lighting; occupancy and daylight sensors to control artificial lighting; occupancy sensors for ventilation; low flow plumbing fixtures; high reflectivity white roof, passive solar heating, and sun shades.


The design allows for the future addition of a 300 kW photovoltaic solar array on the rooftop, which, along with a future solar array on a nearby parking structure, will provide electricity and enable the building to reach net zero energy.




Champaign, IL



230,000 SF


Services Provided

Electrical, Technology, HVAC, Fire Protection, Plumbing, Construction Administration, Energy Modeling, LEED