Renovations to the University of Maryland's Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology Research building will reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions by 29 percent, according to a Maryland Clean Energy Center estimate.

The institute, which is located in Rockville, has received a $4.6 million loan from this university to update the HVAC, lighting and process control equipment to make it more sustainable and require less energy, according to Mary-Ann Ibeziako, Facilities Management's engineering and energy director.

The research institute has entered an energy performance contract with the energy center to help certify that its investment will be worthwhile.

This university will pay the MCEC for its estimates if they are accurate, but the center will pay this university the difference if the estimates miss their mark.

The center is a state-created organization focused on advancing and funding sustainable buildings. In order to develop the performance contract, which took two months to negotiate, MCEC's contractors evaluated the current building and its energy intake. Then, the contractors determined how much energy consumption the institute would save by updating its infrastructure.

The center guarantees the energy savings as part of the energy performance contract. If there are less energy consumption savings than proposed by the contractors and agreed upon in the contract, the it will "cut a check" to the research institute to cover the energy costs, according to Jim Johnson, the institute's facilities and lab services director.

If the energy savings exceed the amount expected, the institute gets to keep the excess savings. The renovations will pay for themselves in energy savings over a 15-year period.

The center estimated that total savings as a result of these renovations, which are expected to be completed by the end of 2019, will be about $379,000 per year, according to Ibeziako.

This energy performance contract will inform the center's renovations, so as to ensure this university's funds are best spent for energy efficiency.

"This is really beneficial at this time of very limited funding to support operations for existing buildings," Ibeziako said.

In addition, decreasing the building's energy consumption will help the institute fit into larger plans for lowering this university's environmental impact.

"This is allowing us to meet [university President Wallace Loh]'s climate action plan which pretty much mandates that we reduce our campus' energy consumption by 20 percent by 2020, so this will reduce our consumption by 29 percent at the IBBR facility," Johnson said.

The Climate Action Plan from the university president's office proposes measures to make the university a carbon-neutral campus by 2050.

In addition, the research institute also received a $79,000 grant from the Maryland Energy Administration to build a mini Combined Heat and Power Plant, equipment which heats water and provides power, as part of the project.

This grant will cover 20 percent of the installation. The rest of the project will be paid for upfront by this university and will eventually pay itself off, Johnson said.

According to Kaymie Owen, the energy administration's communications director, the equipment will pay for itself in at most seven years.