UChicago Medicine, Knapp Center for Biomedical Discovery

Chicago, IL

UChicago Medicine, Knapp Center for Biomedical Discovery, exterior


The Knapp Center for Biomedical Discovery, a 330,000-square-foot medical research building that was completed in 2009 for the University of Chicago Medicine – Division of Biological Sciences, provides labs, a vivarium, and office space. Research groups include the Institute for Pediatric Molecular Sciences, devoted to the genetic influence of childhood diseases.

The client retained Grumman|Butkus to retro-commission the facility in two phases between 2014 and 2015, as part of the ComEd Energy Efficiency Program.


ASHRAE Illinois, Excellence in Engineering Award, 2016

ASHRAE Region VI, Technology Award, First Place (Educational Facilities, Existing Building Cx), 2017


Though the intent of RCx was to identify and implement low-cost, short-payback energy conservation measures, the GBA team discovered significant problems early in its investigations and discussions with building staff. Air-handling units would often shut down in response to low-temperature safety switches; humidifiers would behave erratically in response to pressure changes; and the steam pressure-reducing valves (PRVs) required constant maintenance. The building exhibited extreme negative pressures, leading to elevator shutdowns and curtain wall frosting. The building staff believed system capacity must be inadequate.

  • Through metering, data analysis, and on-site investigations, the engineers identified multiple problems that were limiting system capacity. Holistic solutions were devised to regain capacity and save energy without large expenditures.
  • Problems related to configuration of the AHUs and their temperature controls were corrected to eliminate inappropriate tripping and restore functionality of the heat recovery system, as well as solving humidification issues.
  • Steam valve failures and PRV setup errors were fixed so the steam systems could function properly, recapturing “lost” capacity.
  • RCx produced verified annual savings of 88,000 therms of natural gas and greatly improved HVAC system stability. Verified annual savings of $106,000 per year were achieved in Phase 1 alone, with further potential savings identified in Phase II.

View More Projects

Interested in learning more about how GBA can assist with your facility objectives? Our portfolio is a great place to start. 

Skyscraper board room

430 N. Michigan (Realtor Building)

A large-scale vertical expansion called on GBA's analytical, design, and commissioning skills.

Hallway with rehab equipment

Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, Pediatric & DayRehab Center

This outpatient center serves children and adults; GBA provided engineering design services for the adaptive reuse project.

Exterior of Todd Building, University of Kentucky

University of Kentucky, Lee T. Todd, Jr. Building

An ASHRAE Level 1 audit,  retro-commissioning, and a lab ventilation assessment improved sustainability.