U-M wins statewide energy conservation competition

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The University of Michigan recently won the 2021 Michigan Battle of the Buildings’ University Division with a 22% energy reduction at the Institute for Social Research building.

More than 1,500 buildings competed in the competition, which encourages commercial, industrial, educational and other building owners and tenants across Michigan to reduce energy use.

Systematic efforts to save energy are part of the university’s commitment to carbon neutrality. Initiatives that contributed to the ISR building’s significant energy reduction included:

  • A tuneup of the entire building and repair of energy-consuming issues such as outside air dampers being previously stuck open.
  • The replacement of an old steam chiller that consumed large amounts of energy with a more efficient electric chiller.
  • Optimization of HVAC schedules, verification of Building Automation System sensor readings, and ongoing on-site checks of issues observed in the BAS system.

Summarizing the building staff’s active engagement in sustainability and stewardship, Jody Reynolds, operations director for the Institute for Social Research, said “The ISR facilities staff have been proactive with energy reduction by keeping air handler schedules up-to-date, managing lighting in common areas and performing regular building walkthroughs to help catch issues early.”

Other initiatives to reduce energy use and emissions include LED lighting upgrades across the Ann Arbor, Flint and Dearborn campuses, HVAC improvements and the continuous work by the Office of Campus Sustainability Energy Management team and facilities staff to identify and address inefficiencies. Building energy efficiency is a crucial facet of U-M’s ongoing commitment to achieving carbon neutrality universitywide.

Recent steps include joining the U.S. Department of Energy Better Climate Challenge, planning geothermal exchange heating and cooling systems, announcing $300 million in “green bonds” for capital projects aligned with U-M sustainability goals, launching a public dashboard tracking U-M emissions reduction efforts, and financing aforementioned LED and energy conservation projects.

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