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Michigan State UniversityMichigan State UniversityInfrastructure Planning and Facilities
Environmental and Utilities Analyst Amanda Groll uses a device to read the meters in the basement of the Chemistry Building.

Environmental and Utilities Analyst Amanda Groll uses a device to read the meters in the basement of the Chemistry Building.

Metering utilities


Oct. 31, 2012

In efforts to be more green, the Physical Plant* has started replacing the current utility measuring devices with smarter ones. There are meters installed in every building on campus to measure utilities such as electricity, water and steam.

 Smart meters can report not just how much of a utility has been used, like the traditional ones, and when, but also a long list of other parameters, depending on the utility. This would include temperature and pressure for steam meters, or volts and amps for each phase of power for electric meters.

Two perks of the smart-metering system are that it is read remotely and is available online.

Presently, Engineering Aide David Eaton goes on site to manually read the traditional meters. “I go out once a week for about four hours to read the old meters. It takes approximately a month to get them all. I do about 30 meters each time I go out,” said Eaton. The smart meters will mean that the usage will be measured remotely so Eaton will no longer need to go to each location to read the data.

“The main reason to put in the smart meters is that we have a lot of different energy conservation projects going on across campus, and what we would like to do is look at those projects and if they are supposed to save electricity, steam or water, and see the reduction in use. If we don’t know how much we’re using before and how much we’re using after, we don’t know if it works,” said Energy Analyst Bill Lakos.

A student group on campus, US Green Building Council Students-MSU, took advantage of the smart metering system. The group pitted two of the residence halls in Brody Neighborhood against each other to see who could use less electricity. The student group used the publicly available online report to see how much of a utility each building is using. The students living in the residence were also able to view online who was winning.

 Currently, almost all buildings use smart meters to measure electricity usage, while only a few use them for water and steam. Electrical Engineer Rick Johnson has been a key in implementing the new smart meters, and he is constantly working to add more smart meters to buildings.

 Adding smart meters to measure utility usage on campus is a part of the University’s plan to more accurately measure utility usage. Once all utilities in all the buildings on campus are on the smart-metering system, MSU will be closer to accomplishing its energy-efficiency goals.

September/October 2012

*Prior to the creation of Infrastructure Planning and Facilities in January 2013, several IPF departments were a part of the now-dissolved MSU Physical Plant. Some historical articles on this website reference that former unit.

More information:

For information about MSU’s energy consumption, visit:

To learn about Michigan State University’s Energy Transition Plan, visit: