Holly Balentine | Student Editor
MSU has always been energy-conscious, but the Physical Plant is going a step further by consolidating several new conservation efforts. The formation of the Energy and Environment department will help MSU meet Energy Transition Plan goals as well as strengthen a legacy of environmental awareness.
Lynda Boomer, energy and environmental engineer, has been working on energy initiatives with MSU for several years and is glad for the change. The new department will streamline efficiency to help meet the goals.
One key element of the new department is the energy educator program. The educators inform building occupants about better energy-use habits as well as make simple, beneficial adjustments in buildings’ mechanical rooms. There have already been significant reductions in both steam and electrical use for the six pilot buildings.
“What we’re trying to do is not mandate, but encourage people to turn it off if they are not using it,” Boomer explained. “We need the energy educators out on campus informing people what they can do and what their impact is.”
Energy educators work with student groups such as the U.S. Green Building Council chapter and the Sustainability Action Committee co-chaired by Professor Paulette Stenzel in the College of Business. The student groups birth ideas such as MSU’s participation in Campus Conservation Nationals. On campuses across the country, two or more residence halls compete over the course of a month to see which can lower its energy use the most. Bryan and Emmons halls are participating at MSU. (Their consumption is being tracked at energydashboard.msu.edu.)
In addition to face-to-face involvement, the analytical side of the project is critical for measuring progress and ensuring results. Bill Lakos, energy analyst, explained, “I look at energy from both ends of the wire, from production to how it is used on campus.”
Lakos tracks data to identify areas for improvement and validate that conservation measures are effective. “We’re trying to see how changing one piece of the puzzle impacts the rest of the operation,” he said. Lakos is currently creating building profiles by determining the minimum amount of energy the buildings need to function and suggesting changes to attain that number.
The building profile system is an innovative approach Michigan State is using to determine which buildings offer the greatest opportunity for energy savings. Building profiling is the first step in a multi-step process Michigan State intends to apply to buildings across campus to increase energy efficiency. For more information on this process and how it is being implemented at Anthony Hall as part of the Better Buildings Challenge, click here.