Michigan State University was recognized by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Challenge for reducing its energy use by 21%, surpassing its original goal of 20% two years ahead of schedule.
“To reach such an aggressive goal two years early is a significant achievement,” MSU sustainability director Amy Butler said in a press release. “It demonstrates our continuing commitment to sustainability as a core value of the university and our mission to inspire others to take action for a sustainable global community.”
The Better Buildings Challenge is a federal program that works to encourage buildings, power plants and homes across the nation to adopt cost-effective strategies to improve energy efficiency. Since 2010, MSU has decreased its total energy use through improving the T.B. Simon Power Plant’s efficiency, updating building operational systems and adding light retrofits to parking ramps, according to the university’s energy performance page.
“Michigan State continues to demonstrate the core principles of sustainability: being environmentally and fiscally responsible while also providing a safe, secure, and productive learning environment for our students, faculty and staff,” President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. said in the press release. “Energy efficiency is not often in the spotlight, but it is the most important investment we can make to the benefit of future generations of Spartans, Michiganders and Americans alike.”
According to the press release, Michigan State focused on renewing the campus buildings with the overall highest energy use first. Those buildings received improvements to their insulation, heating and cooling systems and lighting. The university also added solar arrays to 40 acres of its parking lots and switched the power plant’s fuel source from coal to natural gas.
Different student organizations, such as MSU Divestment Campaign and Sunrise MSU, have been pushing for Michigan State University to reduce energy use for climate change justice. In 2012, the university accepted an Energy Transition Plan to further these goals by increasing renewable energy by 40% and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 65% by the 2030 fiscal year.
MSU Vice President for Strategic Infrastructure Planning and Facilities Dan Bollman said in the press release that the university plans to continue reducing its energy use across campus.
“It’s amazing to see how much the aggressive focus MSU facilities staff has put on energy efficiency in buildings across campus has paid off in financial savings and a reduced carbon footprint,” Bollman said in the press release. “Along with the university’s push to use more renewable energy sources like our solar carport arrays, and to reuse and recycle waste at the Surplus Store and Recycling Center, our energy efficiency efforts help make MSU a national leader in sustainable practices, and we have more improvements planned. Just this year, we are adding another 50,000 new LED light fixtures to continue our drive for even greater energy efficiency.”
Correction: This article was updated at 10:52 a.m. Apr. 23 to change Department of Education to Department of Energy