The Many Benefits of a Strong Energy Management Partnership – Shedd Aquarium

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Shedd Aquarium, Chicago, Illinois What happens when you retrofit a historic nearly 90-year-old building that is the home to over 32,000 aquatic animals and nearly 2 million annual visitors with state-of-the art systems? Not only do you reap the benefits of energy and financial cost savings, but you also receive an Environmental Leader Project of the Year 2017 Award!

This award recognizes excellence in projects implemented by companies that improve environmental or energy management and increase the bottom line – and the recognition goes to Schneider Electric and John G. Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, Illinois.

Shedd Aquarium currently houses more than 1,500 species, including fish, marine mammals, birds, snakes, amphibians, and insects from all over the world. This organization is dedicated to the well-being of not only these animals, but also its visitors and staff – as well as the environment – which is one of the reasons it’s been named an environmental leader. Not only does it want to connect people to animals in exciting, innovative ways, but it also wants to cut its energy consumption in half by the year 2020.

And it’s well on its way to achieving that lofty goal. “We have seven different parts of the world that we represent all living under one roof,” says Robert Wengel, the vice president of facilities at the 480,000 square foot aquarium. “To achieve our people and environmental goals, we needed to conduct extensive research and analysis to identify problem areas in what was an aging facility.” Wengel recognized that in order to upgrade its systems efficiently, it would need a strong energy management partner – and he found that partner in Schneider Electric.

Shedd Aquarium now has several Schneider Electric systems in place:  a building management system, SmartStruxure with Power Manager, VFD drives on some of our animal life support and HVAC systems, building analytics, sub-metering, and turnkey solar services. These collectively help Wengel to achieve the organization’s sustainability goals. And they enable his team to easily manage everything from lighting to life support systems to HVAC systems, all of which enable them to keep their animals, visitors, and staff safe and comfortable.

Shedd AquariumThe Environmental Leader award is certainly a testament to this, as the aquarium now is equipped with things like 4,500 energy management monitoring points and 913 solar panels.

Building analytics plays a big role in the organization’s sustainability, as its helps the facilities staff identify and prioritize actions that will lead to energy conservation and the avoidance of high energy costs. The use of analytics helps Wengel and his team zero in on the root causes of problems, and then prioritize and implement energy-saving improvements to resolve them.

For instance, through detailed mapping of the BMS, Building Analytics helps the staff evaluate all equipment under the BMS’s control, and then find faults in processes, maintenance, or repair. The analytics automatically prioritizes those based on where the greatest energy savings value can be achieved so the team can focus first on issues that will provide the best return.

In regards to the award, one of the Environmental Leader judges noted that the application of analytics “demonstrates the opportunity to retrofit historical buildings with state-of-the-art systems that can deliver energy and financial results upon implementation.” Another commented that this project is “a great solution for understanding and optimizing the entire building system and for making real-time modifications.”

As Wengel notes, “We’re moving from being an energy saver to becoming an energy leader and innovator.” In the first two months alone, the aquarium was able to realize an energy cost avoidance of over $8,000. Schneider Electric is proud to be a trusted partner in this endeavor.


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