Michigan State University's Integrated Model for Long Term Campus Energy Planning
Founded in 1855, MSU is a top research institution situated on 2,100 acres of beautiful park-like development with over 550 buildings supporting academics, research, athletics and auxiliary operations. The university also boasts the largest residence hall system in the country, serving 17,000 on-campus residents. MSU is challenged to continue to provide a reliable, cost-effective, sustainable energy supply to campus facilities while reducing the impact to the environment.
In order to better understand the implications of energy decisions on both the campus and surrounding community, the MSU Energy Team worked with a third party consultant to develop the Integrated Energy Planning Model, a software tool which informs energy-related decisions on campus. The tool is used by the Energy Team -- but also students, professors, administrators and community members – to inform the direction of MSU’s long-term energy approach.
Michigan State University Board of Trustees endorsed an Energy Transition Plan, in April of 2012. The Energy Transition Plan commits the university to reduction of greenhouse gas emissions of 30% by 2015 and 65% by 2030, as well as a commitment in investment in sustainable research and becoming leaders in sustainability. The university is also committed to reaching 100% renewable energy and the first target is to achieve 15% renewable energy by 2015. The IEPM informed the development of this plan and continues to inform its implementation.
Developing the Tool - MSU already has a robust building-level metering system in place for all fuel types. In many cases buildings are sub-metered. To make better use of this information, MSU’s Energy Team engaged key functions across campus including finance, operations, housing, faculty/staff and students to inform development of the IEPM, which was built in partnership with decision system software firm Confluenc.
The IEPM allows MSU to slice and dice data on its existing buildings and energy use, and also acts as a crystal ball of sorts displaying the outcomes of various energy scenarios that users create. Users can take a campus-wide view to create scenarios with different fuel mixes and technologies employed over a number of years. These campus scenarios can be compared to one another to understand the implications of various choices on key metrics including greenhouse gas emissions, air quality, energy cost, and even tuition. The Energy Team can also drill down to individual buildings to view building attributes, building system profiles, and historic energy use by fuel. MSU has employed the tool in many ways to inform their energy planning and implementation.
Using the IEPM to develop power supply scenarios for the campus:
Comparing the impacts of power supply scenarios (in this case required capital through 2050):
View of historic energy use by fuel type for the Life Sciences Building:
Engaging the Community in Energy Planning - MSU used the information from the IEPM to create a “build-your-own-energy-supply” web tool for campus and community input. The Campus Office of Sustainability hosted Town Hall meetings to gather feedback from hundreds of faculty, staff, students, and community members on preferences for future energy supplies. The Campus Energy Planning web tool allowed participants at these Town Hall sessions to create a virtual building energy supply for the campus and see onscreen the impacts of their choices on key metrics over time.
Results of these exercises and other feedback clearly indicated that the campus community favored aggressive energy goals and increased use of renewable fuels to supply energy needs in the future. This public feedback significantly informed development of MSU’s Energy Transition Plan, which was endorsed by the MSU Board of Trustees in April of 2012.
Prioritizing Buildings for Retrofit and Recommissioning - With the Energy Transition Plan approved, the MSU Energy Team had clear goals in place. MSU’s basic strategy to achieve its energy goals is three-fold:
- Reduce energy use
- Replace high carbon energy sources with low carbon sources
- Offset emissions that cannot be avoided or replaced
To operationalize these strategies, the Energy Team called upon the IEPM to assist. By cross-referencing the highest-energy using facilities with the installed systems in each building, the team targeted over 100 campus facilities for retrocommissioning efforts. MSU’s retrocommissioning program is detailed in the Better Buildings Challenge showcase on Anthony Hall. A video also describes MSU’s approach.
Teaching Students About Energy Planning – The Integrated Energy Planning Model is also used as a resource for instruction in Sustainability classes at MSU, with faculty partners and operations staff instructing students on the use of the IEPM. One example of output from the model includes a business as usual (BAU) point when the demand for energy on campus exceeds the current supply capacity of the power plant (aka tipping point), given the historical growth of the university (see below).
Output from IEPM showing students predicted “tipping points” when energy demand on campus will exceed supply:
MSU has shared the IEPM internally through campus presentations to students and with other Big Ten universities at professional conferences and through web meetings. There is a high level of interest in the energy model as a tool for long-range energy planning.
Tools & Resources
- Video providing an overview of the IEPM tool
- Video explaining the IEPM scenario comparison tool
- Video describing how to create an MSU campus energy scenario
- Video describing the creation of an energy conservation portfolio for campus buildings
For more information on the IEPM and its use at MSU, contact Lynda Boomer
Michigan State University utilizes real-time smart electrical meters and steam meters to report progress in all 545 buildings on campus. The web-based Energy Dashboard can be viewed by all online, including faculty, students and staff.
Since becoming a charter member of the DOE’s Better Buildings Challenge, MSU has reduced building energy intensity (kBtus/sf) by 10%. MSU has also achieved a 14% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions since the baseline year and expects to achieve the campus goal by 2015. To date, renewable energy sources provide 7% of campus energy needs. The energy operations team is meeting regularly to develop recommended strategies to achieve the goals and evaluate new opportunities. The IEPM validates the direction the university is heading to achieve the desired outcomes, while at the same time allowing for new technologies, or business opportunities to be evaluated within the context of the key metrics for the campus energy supply, reliability, capacity, economics and the environment. The campus community is engaged in the process including student groups, researchers, and staff.
Cogeneration steam heating and electric power plant (70% efficient):
Michigan State created an Integrated Energy Planning Model to demystify energy use and associated impacts on utility costs, tuition, and other key metrics to inform campus sustainability decisions.
Lack of understanding of the impact of energy systems on the environment, campus resources, and the community
The Integrated Energy Planning Model (IEPM) articulates the complex nature of energy use at a research institution, and the impacts to key metrics, such as utility costs, tuition, greenhouse gas emissions, debt capacity and more
MSU administration make more informed decisions about how to best use MSU resources to meet campus sustainability goals; the first impact was a 5% increase in efficiency at the campus power plant