MSU Saves $429,000 on Energy Expenditures

MSU has saved over $400,000 this past year under an energy performance contract that began in 2010 which requires that MSU to monitor and verify energy savings for at least three years.

To begin the project, an energy audit was done and various energy saving options were presented. A set of of projects were chosen based on their overall benefits, such as decreasing extra maintenance. The projects focused on water conservation, lighting, replacing windows, mechanical improvements, retiring unused buildings and installing digital air controls in buildings. A budget was then presented to the Board of Regents outlining the projected costs, savings and benefits. The proposal was approved.

The next stage of the project required MSU’s contractor, McKinstry Company, to measure the energy savings from phase one. The contractor determined that exactly $429,000 has been saved per year. Dan Stevenson, the engineering and utilities manager and assistant director of facility services, looked at the bigger picture savings and found that the meter-level data for each building showed that the savings the contractor found correlate with the meter levels Stevenson observed.

Under the contract, MSU borrowed money to complete the energy saving projects and the savings are now being used to pay back the loan. After independently analyzing the savings, MSU determined that the savings were higher than guaranteed. After the loan is paid, the savings will be used to make additional improvements.

Auxiliary service buildings, which are the SUB, Student Health Service building, Marga Hosaeus Fitness Center, Brick Breeden Fieldhouse, ten major residence halls and over 80 family housing units, were the focus of the projects. “Those buildings are all completely supported by student housing and other fees and not directly by state funds. These improvements help keep student costs lower,” Stevenson said.

Auxiliary buildings were chosen in part because they affect the cost to students. “We focused on those buildings because, first of all there was a lot of need, and secondly, if that money is not expended on utility costs, it can be used to make the buildings and environment much better for our customers, our students, while holding costs down,” Stevenson said.

He also pointed out that MSU runs completely on its own energy program. All of the heat and energy and some of the electricity campus uses gets generated on campus. “MSU is a really special spot in Montana in that we have, in the utility realm, we have ownership of all of the utility systems on campus,” Stevenson said.

Tom Stump, director of auxiliary services, sees several benefits coming from the energy performance contract. “All of this, yes it’s nice to reduce our carbon footprint, but we made our living environment nicer for our students. I like that part,” Stump said.

Other energy saving projects have also been implemented. In the summer of 2013, the windows in North Hedges were replaced and the irrigation distribution system for family and graduate housing has been converted to the main irrigation system on campus. This means the water no longer comes from the city, which not only lowers costs but also means the city can serve more Bozeman residents in the future. Last year, the heat exchanger for North Hedges was upgraded. Another measurement will be done to see how much money has been saved since the last energy audit was completed.

These energy saving projects will continue in the future as the savings from previous projects allow additional projects to begin.