Energy- Efficiency-at-the-Shedd-Aquarium

Master Energy Road Map Leading Chicago Aquarium to Efficiency

The Shedd Aquarium in Chicago has set a goal of cutting its energy use by 50% by 2020. The popular tourist attraction is housed in an 83-year-old facility, making for an even bigger challenge. A team of both public and private advisors, led by West Monroe Partners, developed a Master Energy Road Map as a plan to meet the long-term objective. After assessing the aquarium’s current energy usage, West Monroe appointed a team of Chicago-area field leaders to identify efficiency opportunities, from cutting down current use to installing new technologies. Other elements of the plan include energy storage, automation, and renewable power supply, such as rooftop solar panels.

Lighting in the main entrance has already been upgraded, with the installation of 600 new LED bulbs, a measure that will save $7,000 in electricity annually.  The facility’s current usage averages $1.4 million in electricity costs and $154,000 spent on natural gas. A reef exhibit in the entrance area also uses LED lighting specifically installed to produce natural-looking underwater light. Most of its approximately 32,500 animals of some 1,500 different species require specific temperatures – both hot and cold – and light levels that mimic sunshine. Although the plan is for the aquarium to participate in incentive programs requiring it to power down during periods of peak demand, those temporary reductions will be made in areas where neither animal comfort nor the visitor experience will be compromised.

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Shedd Aquarium looks to slice energy bill

Chicago Tribune, January 26, 2014

Bob Wengel’s job at Shedd Aquarium makes your typical thermostat war seem laughable.

For him, keeping everybody comfortable means manufacturing a 2 p.m. sunset for penguins attuned to the daylight rhythms of South America. It means maintaining 3 million gallons at a cool 58 degrees for blubber-laden whales while also satisfying tiny neon fish that won’t tolerate less than 78 degrees.

“The first thing you’ve got to make sure is that your animals are happy,” said Wengel, Shedd’s vice president of facilities. “Then, your guests come next and, after that, the people who work here.”

Until now it has also meant forking over $1.4 million for electricity and $154,000 for natural gas each year.

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