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Michigan State UniversityMichigan State UniversityInfrastructure Planning and Facilities

Promote sustainable energy research by using campus as a living, learning laboratory

The Boldness by Design strategic imperative has set the framework for MSU to move from a land-grant to world-grant university. One of the pillars of Boldness by Design is to Increase Research Opportunities. As MSU leaders define focal areas for research, a natural area of emphasis is sustainable energy. MSU will leverage its existing world-class faculty and research programs to create demonstration projects that show leadership, educate students and shape policy.

The committee recommends that MSU leverage its research capabilities and campus infrastructure to use the campus as a living/learning laboratory to develop solutions to its most pressing energy challenges. This will put MSU on the leading edge of making change.

Furthermore, once demonstration projects are proven successful, solutions should be operationalized on MSU’s campus. An example of this type of partnership would be the development of the anaerobic digester turning animal waste into usable heat, electricity and other valuable products. Researchers worked with staff and students to evaluate the construction and operation of a commercial scale digester. After determining that this was a viable technology for MSU, construction of the anaerobic digester was completed and the facility has been operating since 2013. In addition to powering itself, it supplies some of the energy to 10 buildings on south campus.