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Michigan State UniversityMichigan State UniversityInfrastructure Planning and Facilities

Avoid wasteful and carbon intensive practices

Pursue aggressive, sustainable energy conservation and re-invest energy savings for future energy needs

The most efficient unit of energy is the one the campus does not have to produce. Conservation projects such as commissioning/retro-commissioning of buildings, changing laboratory controls to reduce Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) consumption, and improving classroom and event scheduling will result in reduced energy consumption. Although these efforts are currently happening on campus, they should be accelerated in order to meet the targets recommended by the committee. As energy savings are realized, the funds saved from the fuel budget should be reinvested for future energy needs such as fuel switching and renewable energy infrastructure.

Conservation also will give the university more time to think about the right technology for addressing future capacity needs. If the university continues to grow at 2 million square feet per decade, it is predicted that the T.B. Simon Power Plant will reach its firm capacity for steam in 2018 and for electricity in 2039 requiring an investment of $100 million or more for power plant expansion. It would be prudent to delay a decision on expanding the power plant until generation technologies are more mature.

The Integrated Energy Planning model shows that implementing the strategies in the plan will push the firm capacity dates for steam and electricity out, thus allowing more time for MSU to review and implement renewable energy sources and delay costly investment into old technologies.

Implement a smart growth strategy to minimize the amount of new square footage added to the campus

Historically, the MSU campus has grown by approximately 1 million square feet per decade. However, in the most recent decade, campus square footage has grown by 2 million square feet and much of the new construction has been of high energy research buildings such as the FRIB, and additions to Plant and Soil Sciences Building, Life Sciences, and Wells Hall. Although much has been done to conserve energy and improve energy efficiency, these gains are compromised by the new space added to campus.

The committee recommended that the university continue to pursue opportunities to address space needs by considering mixed-use spaces, flexible spaces, and strategic renovations and demolitions to slow the growth of new square footage on campus. For example, the Morrill Hall replacement project combined new construction, reuse, renovation and demolition to meet program needs, thereby minimizing the environmental footprint.

Slowing campus growth from 2 million square feet per decade to 1.5 million square feet per decade pushes out the firm capacity date, saves energy costs, and when in concert with conservation activities, further reduces greenhouse GAS (GHG) emissions. More dramatic savings and reductions can be achieved if growth slows to 1 million square feet per decade, the university’s growth average prior to the most recent decade.

Graphic displays the growth of campus square-footage from 1970 to 2010, showing steady increases throughout.
East Lansing campus growth from 1970 to present.

Graphic shows the projected expansion of campus square-footage from 1990 to 2029, one line representing powerhouse electric and one line representing powerhouse steam, showing continued expansion in the coming decades.
Impact of projected building expansion on power plant capacity for electricity and steam.

Create a system for distributing utility and space costs and incentives to the end user

With the exception of some auxiliary units such as Residential and Hospitality Services, and Athletics, end users are not directly responsible for energy and space costs. Consequently, there is little incentive to conserve energy and/or space. Previous studies from the Environmental Stewardship Behavior Team confirm that many users do not directly associate their use to costs and are not motivated to practice conservation (switching to lower energy consuming equipment, setting up energy controls, etc.) because there was no incentive or reason to do so. Therefore, the committee recommends putting in place a system that connects the end user directly to energy and space costs. This can be accomplished multiple ways – direct billing, an incentive program, or other means. The system should account for the diversity among departments and units and take into account a program’s size, ability to generate funds, etc.