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Transforming the Future of Energy: Vibhu Sharma’s Landmark Achievements at Merchandise Mart

In a groundbreaking endeavor, Vibhu Sharma, a visionary energy engineer and sustainability expert, has left an indelible mark on Chicago’s iconic Merchandise Mart. With a steadfast commitment to driving transformative projects that enhance energy systems globally, Sharma’s innovative solutions have ushered in a new era of sustainability at the Mart, showcasing his technical prowess and unwavering dedication to environmental stewardship.

The project, which entailed a comprehensive energy audit and subsequent implementation of energy-saving measures, yielded remarkable results. Under Sharma’s guidance, the Mart achieved a remarkable 21% reduction in energy consumption and an 18% decrease in operating costs, marking a significant milestone in the building’s sustainability journey.

Reportedly, Sharma’s expertise in energy efficiency played a pivotal role in the project’s success. Through strategic initiatives such as the replacement of aging air-handling unit (AHU) infrastructure and the integration of lighting control panels into the building automation system (BAS), substantial energy savings were realized. The meticulous details of Sharma’s initiatives, including the DDC Controls Upgrade on AHUs, AHU Replacements, and Lighting Control Retrofit, underscore his proficiency in implementing a diverse range of energy-saving measures and quantifying their impact.

For the DDC Controls Upgrade on AHUs, the project cost was $2,540,000, resulting in a 250,000-kWh reduction in electricity use, a 50,000-therm reduction in natural gas use, and $63,000 in energy cost savings, with a simple payback period of 40.3 years and $50,000 in incentives. The AHU Replacements project, costing $2,090,000, led to a 151,000-kWh reduction in electricity use, a 14,000 ton-hour reduction in chilled water use, and $24,200 in energy cost savings, with a simple payback period of 86.4 years. The Lighting Control Retrofit on the 2nd and 3rd floors, costing $640,000, resulted in a 649,000-kWh reduction in electricity use and $64,900 in energy cost savings, with a simple payback period of 9.9 years. These technical details showcase Sharma’s expertise in implementing a wide range of energy- saving measures and his ability to quantify the impact of these initiatives.

Sharma’s work also included the retrofit of 21 existing AHUs with demand control ventilation to minimize outdoor air intake requirements, resulting in further energy savings of 10% and an 8% reduction in

natural gas consumption. Additionally, his team implemented a system to adjust setpoint temperatures and allow air-side economizer or limit the economizer operation, resulting in a 5% reduction in energy consumption.

Beyond these technical advancements, Sharma’s work included the retrofit of existing AHUs with demand control ventilation and the implementation of temperature setpoint adjustments, further optimizing energy usage and reducing natural gas consumption. These efforts reflect Sharma’s holistic approach to energy management, which prioritizes not only energy savings but also overall operational efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

The success of the Merchandise Mart project serves as a testament to Sharma’s stature as a thought leader in the energy engineering community. His published work and leadership roles in technical committees attest to his nuanced understanding of energy systems and unwavering commitment to innovation. Through his involvement with industry organizations and committees, Sharma has played a pivotal role in shaping energy policies and standards, further solidifying his reputation as a leading expert in the field.

Sharma’s impact extends beyond the confines of the Merchandise Mart, as his work has garnered recognition from industry peers and organizations alike. His ability to combine technical expertise with a deep understanding of the challenges faced by building owners and facility managers has been instrumental in driving positive change and inspiring others to adopt sustainable practices.

Furthermore, Sharma’s contributions have had a significant impact on the local community, aligning with Chicago’s broader sustainability efforts. By reducing the Mart’s energy footprint and promoting environmentally conscious practices, Sharma has contributed to lowering greenhouse gas emissions and fostering a more sustainable urban environment.

As Sharma continues to spearhead transformative energy initiatives, his work serves as a beacon of hope for a greener, more sustainable future. By leveraging his technical expertise and innovative approach, Sharma has set a new standard for energy management in commercial buildings, inspiring others to follow suit and embrace sustainable practices for a brighter tomorrow.

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