Montana State University

MSU enters contract to save energy and cost

November 24, 2010 -- MSU News Service

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MSU News Service
Tel: (406) 994-4571
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Montana State University has started a multi-year program to find and implement energy efficiency opportunities in buildings campus wide. The program is expected to pay for itself and for improvements to make campus buildings more energy efficient for years to come.

McKinstry Company will audit approximately 2,000,000 square feet of Auxiliary buildings to identify the greatest needs and opportunities for MSU. Auxiliary buildings use non-state funding for construction, operations and maintenance. On the MSU campus, Auxiliary buildings include the SUB, residence halls, sports facilities and the Hosaeus Fitness Center.

The first phase--the technical energy audit--began in September and will be completed in spring 2011. MSU is paying McKinstry about $500,000 to perform a technical energy audit, which will identify energy conservation ideas to determine the costs of retrofitting buildings and the savings that will result from the retrofits.

"The State of Montana requires that energy performance contracting is self-funding. Energy savings need to first be applied to paying off the project costs, but beyond that, they can be used to improve our student's environment and experience at MSU. This is the exciting part of this project," said Dan Stevenson, assistant director of Facilities Services.

McKinstry has already found energy saving opportunities at MSU. According to Tim Tolman, business development manager at McKinstry, examples include interior and exterior lighting, building controls (such as thermostats) upgrades, HVAC upgrades and water fixture upgrades.

"It makes sense to replace the old controls with modern, intelligent controls," Tolman said. "We can put sensors in a room that detect when people are present. When people leave, the lights go out and the temperature lowers. When people enter the room they don't have to turn up the heat or air conditioning."

Tolman also said there is an opportunity to fit Brick Breeden Fieldhouse with new lighting that will be more efficient, better viewing for athletes and spectators and meet NCAA guidelines.

At the completion of this audit, MSU staff will identify and prioritize projects, which will be completed through several phases of work. The total cost of the project will not be known until then, but Stevenson expects it to be several million with implementation over 3-5 years and financing over a maximum of 20 years. McKinstry will serve as the general contractor and be responsible for providing design, construction and operational performance of the completed work.

MSU spends roughly $8.7 million annually on utilities -- including electricity, natural gas, water, and sewer. Approximately one-third of this total is Auxiliary related.

McKinstry is committed to using local Montana consultants and contractors for the work selected by MSU. Additionally, McKinstry will include MSU students in learning opportunities throughout the project, Tolman said.

McKinstry is a Seattle based energy services contractor with offices in Bozeman and Missoula and a full-time Montana staff of 14 focused on increasing energy efficiency in buildings and renewable energy generation.

In 2008, MSU contracted with Integrated Energy Solutions of Fort Collins, Colo., for a five-year, comprehensive energy conservation program to implement and maintain energy savings on the rest of campus. That program was also paid for with a percentage of the savings the campus realizes from conservation opportunities identified by the firm. The focus of that program is on behavioral and low-cost, practical ways to reduce energy use and instilling a culture of energy conservation among the campus community.

In addition, MSU currently has approximately $7 million of energy conservation and energy deferred maintenance projects in design or implementation phases with potential annual energy cost savings of $600,000 per year.

Dan Stevenson at 406-994-5470 or daniel.stevenson1@montana.edu