Big Plans Ahead

Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone will be a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistency.

Daniel Burnham, legendary architect: Plan of Chicago, 1892 World’s Columbian Exposition

The planning documents below each connect to objectives from the F&S Strategic Plan: Foundations for the Future.


The F&S Energy Management Plan addresses the most important customer need of production-scale energy supply and demand: reliability.

When a researcher turns on high-energy tools; or a staffer flips a light switch on; or a student charges their smartphone, the user needs to be sure their energy needs will be met. Heating, cooling, and electricity all need to be ubiquitous, with no worries for downtime. The utilities service delivery reaches the entire campus community, with annual campus energy usage at approximately 3 trillion BTUs.

Abbott Power Plant’s capabilities shine, in terms of the breadth and depth of energy services offered to campus. First, Abbott is a Combined Heat and Power (CHP) system, offers fuel flexibility thanks to a diverse collection, including coal, fuel oil, and gas. It provides all of the heat and half of the electricity to campus. Off-site solar energy, chilled water plants, and new geothermal systems all contribute, too. With Abbott’s capabilities joining an underground distribution system, the U of I campus is able to weather any tangible or economic change. Clean energy production now supports approximately 12 percent of Illinois’ annual electricity demand.

By operating as a “micro-grid” or in “Island Mode,” the UI campus would be in a good position to provide critical life and safety resources if ever a major outage occurred at the Regional Power Grid.


The Urbana campus is big – so big it takes up miles of roads, pedestrian walkways, and bike lanes traipsing across Champaign and Urbana.

How does F&S enhance the experience of getting around for students, faculty, staff, and visitors? The F&S FY21-FY26 Transportation Demand Management (TDM) Plan addresses just that. The document prioritizes safety, location, traffic volume, condition, and alignment with other campus-wide plans and projects. Strategies will be used to expand and enhance all transportation options, which will contribute to a reduction in single-occupancy vehicle usage.

The TDM strives to ensure effective asset maintenance, reduce single-occupancy vehicle usage, foster bicycle-friendly activities, transition to green vehicle fleets, integrate electric vehicle charging stations, and strengthen commuter options on campus. New campus roads fully support all forms of transportation, through better bike and bus lanes, and updated pedestrian walkways, a goal of ‘complete streets.’ One action being taken is F&S partnering with University Parking to define and implement a commuter program to encourage faculty and staff traveling to campus each day to leave their car behind. The official bus system, the Mass Transit District (MTD) is encouraged, due to free tolls for anyone with an i-card, and wide availability and timing of routes across Champaign, Urbana, and Savoy. Other themes within transportation on campus include more partnerships and promotion of bicycle usage, registration, and storage; a plan for more electric vehicle charging infrastructure; and research collaborations, including one in which bio-oil (from organic waste like food or yard waste) helps bind asphalt.


The F&S Space Management Plan 2021 – 2030 documents how space is used on campus. F&S works with the Office of the Provost and other campus units and committees to manage and improve the use of space on campus, which occupies over 23 million gross square feet of facilities in more than 750 owned and leased buildings.

Properly managing the space is essential, as more than 57,000 people enrolled or employed by the university live and learn on campus. Additionally, the plan notes that “people enrolled or employed on campus has been steadily increasing since 2000, growing by over 4% from 2017 to 2018 alone.”

Over the past decade, balancing campus growth and sustainability goals of the Net Zero Space Growth policy, part of the Illinois Climate Action Plan (iCAP), has required an innovative approach to analyzing campus density and opportunities for greater square footage efficiency. In-depth planning and procedures have included renovating existing space, improving utilization of existing space, and increasing the ability to share space and resources between units and across campus. The modest change to the campus footprint in recent years, despite additional enrollment, demonstrates the value of these actions.

“With enormous capital investments required to build, operate, and maintain our campus infrastructure, space is a critical asset that must be managed effectively to ensure the continued success of our university,” the plan reads. Net Zero Space Growth is essential to the university achieving strategic goals and is a crucial challenge of the ongoing project planning efforts in F&S Capital Programs.


Did you know Illinois has the highest percentage of Pre-World War II academic facilities in the Big Ten? This, of course, provides students, faculty, and staff with a sense of history, place, and uncommon beauty while considering the campus.

On the other hand, older buildings require more and detailed maintenance in order to satisfy up-to-date code compliance and hit notable programmatic needs for students, faculty, and staff.

Additionally, design that fits with the pre-war era of the building’s birth is important to maintain a cohesive architectural look for the campus. Assets are managed through different funding sources, including the Academic Facilities Maintenance Fund Assessment (AFMFA), an ongoing fee assessed each semester to students, and the Deferred Maintenance Program. The F&S Asset Management Plan 2021-2025 “illustrate[s] the number of aging facilities… provide[s] definition of the Facility Condition Index, review[s] how deferred maintenance has been tracked historically, and illustrate[s] current funding strategies for addressing asset management at Illinois for the next 5 years,” it reads.

The university plans to renew aging infrastructure through programs like the Academic Facilities Maintenance Fund Assessment, means to ensure building renovations are done to deferred maintenance projects.

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