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Michigan State UniversityMichigan State UniversityInfrastructure Planning and Facilities

History and creation of the plan

Climate change, energy supply and demand, the health effects of air pollution and environmental sustainability are among the most complex and urgent issues facing our world today. As a premier land-grant public research university for over 150 years, MSU has had a mission to advance knowledge and transform lives through high-impact, innovative teaching, research and outreach activities.

The university has made significant strategic investments in interdisciplinary research in bio-economy and energy, food and sustainability, the environment and health, and education. With this plan comes the opportunity for MSU to grow its reputation as a national and global leader among universities and expand our land-grant to world-grant mission by demonstrating our commitment to answer questions and create solutions for the world’s most pressing problems with an innovative, cost-effective Energy Transition Plan to guide us into a sustainable future.

President Lou Anna K. Simon provided the catalyst for this work with her Boldness by Design strategic imperative in 2005, calling upon the campus community to create transformational change. Through this, the Environmental Stewardship initiative was born and as a result faculty, staff and students engaged in research and pilot programs to decrease energy use, reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and provide the background data for our current energy transition efforts.

In 2009, MSU determined that it needed a long-range Energy Transition Plan to meet the growing needs of the campus and changing technologies and regulations. Business as usual would not be sufficient. Rising energy costs would force expensive retrofits to the current mechanical system and would put upward pressure on tuition and required capital. Air emissions impact the environment and public health, as well as potentially put the university at higher financial risk under regulatory changes being debated at the federal level. Furthermore, as a land-grant/world-grant institution, MSU had to operate its energy system in the most sustainable way possible. The campus had made progress, but changes and improvements needed to be faster and more significant to successfully weather these energy challenges.

The plan is built upon MSU’s successful model of engaging the campus community for solutions to MSU’s energy challenges, and addresses critical variables – reliability, cost, health, environment, and capacity – that impact MSU’s many stakeholders in the proximate community, across the state, and throughout the world.