Energy Management History

History of Energy Management

  • DOE funded energy Audits and Energy Project Grants: Late 70’s–Early 90’s
  • Energy Engineers/Lighting Engineers: Late 80’s–90’s
  • Energy Conservation Account: 1987–Present
  • Pilot Effort: 1987–1990
  • Energy Star Program: 1997 to 2003
  • Energy Conservation & Outreach Program:  2004–2007
  • Planet Blue Teams: 2008–2012

Energy conservation and energy management have been a priority at the University of Michigan since the late 1980’s.  An energy conservation project account  was established in 1987.  This was the funding vehicle for capital measures to reduce energy consumption in General Fund buildings.  The fund was based on self-sustainability, i.e., savings produce future funding.  The payback for projects was set at less than five years and then extended to eight years.  The fund is overseen by The Office of Campus Sustainability, and projects are approved by a four member committee comprised of staff and faculty.  The annual budget is averaged $1.5 million.  The account funds approximately 50 energy conservation measures (ECMs) each year. The cost range for projects is $5000 – $500,000 with an average project cost of $30,000.  The work is supported by dedicated energy engineers. The project proposals are vetted by engineering feasibility studies and must be signed off by an authorized building representative.

Energy Star Program 1997-2003

The University of Michigan’s commitment to Energy Star began with a Memorandum of Understanding between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the University executed on June 19, 1997.  The MOA signified the University’s intention to implement the five-step Energy Star program in all major General Fund facilities, which at that time comprised 119 buildings having a floor area of 12 million square feet and a combined energy budget of $38 million.

The proposal budget indicated that a six-year commitment would be required to complete the tune-up, engineering analysis, and capital improvement phases of Energy Star, five years at a funding level of $4.4 million, and a sixth year at $2.5 million.

 The effect from Energy Star improvements were assessed each year using metered consumption data for electricity, steam, and natural gas. The annual reduction in energy usage has averaged 10.2 % for thermal energy sources, and 12.7% ent for electricity.  Based on current energy costs and consumption rates this translates into an annual savings to the University of $5.4 million, effectively meeting the savings objectives of the program.

Energy Conservation & Outreach Program 2004-2007

The Energy Conservation & Outreach (ECO) Program was a five year program that began its first year of implementation in fiscal year (FY) 2004.  The ECO program focused on general fund buildings with the expectation that an additional $1 million dollars per year in energy cost savings could be attained by building upon the recent success of the Energy Star Program that was completed in FY03.  ECO was a second cycle of the five-step Energy Star Program which included recommissioning, lighting, supplemental load reduction, fan system upgrades, and HVAC upgrades.  It utilizes a more comprehensive payback for funding energy conservation measures (up to eight years for ECMs with an expected service life of 20 years or more).

Furthermore, ECO sought to expand the palette of accepted ECMs by initiating feasibility studies (i.e. demonstration projects) for the testing and evaluation of new ECMs.  It also sought to improve the communication avenues between building managers and Building Automation Services to achieve responsive seasonal scheduling of building mechanical systems. In addition, a greater emphasis has been placed on implementing water conservation measures.  Plus, the ECO program included a campus-wide conservation and outreach effort aimed at creating a culture of energy conservation throughout the University community.

For FY04, ECO energy management engineers investigated a total of 102 potential ECMs, of which 27 were deemed feasible and submitted to the Energy Conservation Committee for possible funding.  These investigations took place in 22 buildings with a combined total of 2,659,527 square feet.

In addition, a number of demonstration projects were initiated for potential ECM’s that may have broader application for general fund buildings campus wide. These demonstration projects are summarized as follows:

Cogged Belts Cimetrics Study Vending Mizer
This feasibility study examined replacing the standard V-belt and sheaves on the motor and fan assembly of air handling units with an offset cogged belt and sheave assembly to reduce belt slippage. A reduction of belt slippage improves the energy efficiency of the air handling unit assembly. A continuous remote monitoring project of four buildings and their automation systems.  The goal is to reduce operating costs by detecting, identifying, and correcting mechanical and operational system inefficiencies. An energy saving technology (Vending Mizer) that uses occupancy sensor controls connected to refrigerated pop vending machines.  The purpose is to shut down power to the machine during periods of no activity (up to three hours) to reduce energy consumption.

Outreach activities for the first year of the Energy Conservation & Outreach Program blended existing initiatives created under the Energy Star Program with newer endeavors.  The Eighth Annual Energy Fest was held in early September, 2003 on the central campus Diag and the north campus Duderstadt Center.  To champion ECO outreach activities, an Energy Conservation/Management Liaison was hired in May, 2004 and subsequently the ECO program participated in the Ann Arbor Green Fair in June, 2004.  

Planet Blue Teams 2008-2012

Planet Blue Teams represent a campus-wide educational and outreach campaign with a mission to:

Actively engage the University of Michigan community to conserve utilities and increase recycling thereby saving money and benefiting the environment.

The Planet Blue Teams are part of the Environmental and Energy Initiative (EEI), an outcome of the President’s Environmental Task Force. The EEI is a six-point initiative that seeks to make the campus more sustainable in the wake of rising energy costs, climate change concerns, and depleting resources. The six elements of the EEI are:

  • Annual Sustainability Report
  • Alternative energy
  • Alternative transportation
  • Green purchasing
  • Sustainable new construction/renovation
  • Planet BlueTeams

From 2008 to 2012, The Planet Blue Teams engaged with approximately 30 general fund buildings each year to conduct energy assessments and suggest and implement energy conservation measures.  The teams also engaged the occupants of these buildings to develop strategies for energy conservation behaviors.  Each year, the program reduced overall energy consumption on campus by 8% and led to $4 million in utility cost avoidance.