Webinar: Master Planning Today for Payback Tomorrow

by Jon Schwartz on September 19, 2014

Webinar: Master Planning Today for Payback TomorrowUtility master plans are one of the most critical tools for campus infrastructure systems. Without a master plan in place, campus systems are flying blind, reacting to increased demands on the utility systems as they come. Each rushed decision impacts the next and creates cascading effects. The good news: With a little upfront planning today, utility master plans can help campuses achieve big paybacks tomorrow — and can update systems to run more efficiently and cleanly.

What Is a Master Plan and Why Do I Need One?

Simply put, a utility master plan (UMP) is a comprehensive study of existing utility and energy services that then analyzes forward to set the future infrastructure roadmap for a campus. It’s developed to help campuses plan for long-term expansion and development. With a plan in place, campus utility groups can be confident in their strategies to manage expanding utility systems, infrastructure, growth and energy.

The importance of UMPs continues to grow as campuses evolve and pressure mounts to cut costs, reduce environmental impact and improve resiliency. Proactive development of a plan will put any campus on a long-term path to creating an effective utility program. By planning early, individual end-users and system owners can realize the benefits of system capacity, efficiency, reliability and environmental impacts, among other factors.

Positioning Your Campus for Future Success

When done correctly, a master plan can position a campus for success. For example, master plans developed in response to weather disasters have helped campuses prepare for major resiliency improvements and hardening. Master plans such as the ones at Ohio State, Purdue and Harvard include combined heat and power (CHP) systems for economic and environmental benefits along with major reliability improvements. Many master plans focus on costs and can save millions of dollars annually and over the entire life cycle of a utility system. With a thoughtful process in place, master plans can also significantly reduce emissions, which is the often the single largest area of opportunity for campus systems.

If the topic of utility master planning interests you, make plans to join me for a free webinar on at 1 p.m. Central time Wednesday, October 1. My colleague Blake Ellis and I will be presenting a comprehensive overview of utility master planning, including why and when you need one, how to conduct a study, and the challenges and issues that come with starting and/or implementing one. We’ll also share some of our own case studies and examples.

If you’re involved in a campus installation or are considering bringing your isolated building systems together, I hope you’ll join us. You can register through the link below.

Registration: Master Planning for Today for Payback Tomorrow


Jon Schwartz is a manager in Burns & McDonnell’s OnSite Energy & Power team. He has more than 20 years of diversified experience leading campus utility system studies and design projects. Want to learn more? Shoot Jon an email or connect with him on LinkedIn.


NOvA Project Studies: The Mysteries of the Universe

by The Burns & McDonnell Team on September 18, 2014

Unraveling the mysteries of our universe with NOvAScientists and engineers from around the world are involved in a groundbreaking project designed to unravel some of the mysteries of our universe. It’s called NOvA, and it’s a collaboration among about 170 scientists from 34 institutions around the globe. They are creating an experiment to detect and analyze one of the most abundant, yet least understood, particles in the universe, the neutrino.

Neutrinos are thought to be a billion times more abundant than the particles that make up all the stars, planets and people in the universe. Unimaginably large numbers of neutrinos are still present today from when the universe was created, and that’s what makes them so interesting to scientists. The problem is that although trillions of them pass through the earth and our bodies every second, they interact so rarely with other particles that they are very difficult to detect.

That’s why the NOvA project is utilizing one of the largest neutrino detectors ever built at two sites in the United States. Scientists generate a beam of the particles for the NOvA experiment using one of the world’s largest accelerators, located at the Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (aka Fermilab) near Chicago. This accelerator transmits the most intense neutrino beam in the world through the earth, at nearly the speed of light. This beam is aimed at the two detectors; the near detector, which is built underground near the source at Fermilab, and the far detector, which is constructed 500 miles away near Ash River, Minn.

The far detector will be the largest freestanding plastic structure in the world. Made up of 28 PVC blocks, each 51 feet high and wide and 7 feet deep, the finished device will be about 200 feet long and weigh 500 metric tons. Take a look at this time-lapse video produced by Fermilab to get an idea of the massive scale of this construction project.


When complete, the far detector will be filled with transparent scintillating liquid and fitted with light sensitive sensors designed to capture and analyze the behavior of the elusive neutrino particles as they pass between the detectors.

The experiment will help answer some of the most important scientific questions about neutrino masses, neutrino oscillations and the role neutrinos may have played in the evolution of the universe. The scientists involved in the project hope they will find the answers to some of the most fundamental questions about energy, matter, space and time and further unlock the puzzle of how the universe was created.

Burns & McDonnell was proud to provide architectural and engineering design services for this innovative project. You can find out more about the NOvA project by watching this video from the Fermilab team and visiting the project at the NOvA website and the NOvA Far Detector Live Webcam.

Photo credit:  Fermilab Visual Media Services


Key Takeaways from the 136th NGAUS Conference

September 12, 2014

Two weeks ago, I was in Chicago for the 136th Annual National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS) Conference. It’s the must-attend event for anyone who works in the defense industry, particularly with national security and disaster response. I’ve found this conference to be the best opportunity for exchanging information with our citizen soldiers and […]

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LEED Leads to Big Energy Savings for Military Buildings

September 8, 2014

The topic of energy savings for the military isn’t new, but in light of recent budget cuts for the U.S. Army, there’s a renewed focus on lowering operations costs for new and existing National Guard facilities. Top it off with a government mandate to design all new National Guard buildings to meet Leadership in Energy […]

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Urban Neighborhood Initiative Tackles Childhood Illiteracy in Kansas City

September 4, 2014

All across America, children from low-income communities are entering kindergarten without the basic early literary skills necessary for lifelong success. Unfortunately, the Kansas City area is no exception. Of the 15,000-plus children in the Kansas City Missouri School District, only 19% of third graders are considered proficient in reading. The Urban Neighborhood Initiative (UNI) is […]

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Updating Your Water Management Plan for ELG Compliance

September 3, 2014

Last year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed new Effluent Limitation Guidelines (ELG) affecting steam electric power generating facilities. The new standards will change wastewater management requirements for many coal-fired power plants, including how they manage water balance. Although the new guidelines won’t be finalized until September 2015, with compliance expected by July 2017, […]

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