Rice University’s Integrated Climate and Energy Master Plan

  • Abbe E. Bjorklund , PE, CEM, LEED AP
  • Richard Johnson
  • Tom Schubbe
  • John Carlson
Keywords: Energy Master Plan


Beginning in 2012, Rice University partnered with Sebesta, Inc., to develop a 30-year integrated climate and energy master plan for Rice University that would address several of Rice’s requirements, including:

1. Serve campus growth of facilities and associated energy requirements;

2. Improve energy performance of campus facilities and utility systems;

3. Meet campus sustainability goals.

Recognizing the interdependence of all system components to meet Rice’s climate commitment, an integrated approach was taken to address campus steam/electricity/chilled water production and distribution systems in conjunction with the demand-side performance of energy using facilities. This article presents the process used for the master planning effort, and the findings and recommendations of the master plan.

The major findings were:

1. By implementing aggressive but achievable demand-side improvements to existing and new facility energy-using systems (30% thermal and 20% electric reduction) and central plant operational improvements, Rice could grow their campus while reducing energy purchases, maintaining existing levels of utility production, and improving plant redundancy and reliability.

2. By investing in expansion of campus cogeneration facilities, Rice University can significantly reduce campus operating costs while providing increased responsiveness to fluctuating energy prices. Expanded cogeneration would also reduce campus CO2 emissions by 70%, substantially helping Rice meet its net zero carbon goal.

3. Upgrading campus instrumentation, and metering and communications systems will provide the data necessary for energy purchase strategies and improved operations.

4. In conjunction with implementation of the strategies above, a plan was developed to allow Rice University to achieve a net zero carbon goal by 2038 that included renewable energy generation and sequestration.


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Author Biographies

Abbe E. Bjorklund, , PE, CEM, LEED AP

Abbe Bjorklund, PE, CEM, LEED AP—Vice President, Service Sector Leader, Sebesta, Inc. Contact: abjorklund@sebesta.com

Richard Johnson

Richard Johnson—Director, Administrative Center for Sustainability and Energy Management/Professor in the Practice of Environmental Studies in Sociology, Rice University. Contact: rrj@rice.edu

Tom Schubbe

Tom Schubbe—Energy Analyst, Sebesta, Inc. Contact: tschubbe@ sebesta.com

John Carlson

John Carlson, PE—Senior Mechanical Engineer, Sebesta, Inc. Contact: jcarlson@sebesta.com