University Facilities Management is committed to providing living laboratories for MSU students to gain hands-on learning opportunities and real-world skills. The Engineering & Utilities department provides access to campus facilities, infrastructure and building professionals, merging academics with the management of campus engineered systems.
The following projects highlight the ongoing partnership between University Facilities Management and academic departments.
The Engineering & Utilities department is proud to provide technical tours of the Central Heating Plant and Utility Tunnels. Each year an estimated 500 students tour these campus facilities with professional staff from the Engineering & Utilities department to learn about energy, mechanical systems, thermodynamics and sustainability.
The Engineering & Utilities and Mechanical Engineering departments partnered to analyze the first central heat pump plant constructed on the MSU campus, the Leon Johnson Energy District. The central plant was originally constructed in 2011 to serve Leon Johnson Hall, with future connections to Teitz Hall in 2013, Wilson Hall in 2014 and eventually the newly constructed Jabs Hall in 2015. The central plant provides the heating and cooling needs for these buildings by efficiently sharing excess energy when available.
Josh Talbert, a Mechanical Engineering graduate student, provided energy modeling and analysis of the energy district concept from 2013 to 2014 and completed his master’s thesis on the topic. This thesis project produced a calibrated energy model of hypothetical campus building energy system interconnections while also providing an industry proof of concept for emerging market energy modeling tools. Information from the energy model was used by the Engineering & Utilities department to further evaluate the load profiles of buildings connected through the installed central heat pump plant.
This thesis is available on the MSU library website: https://scholarworks.montana.edu/xmlui/handle/1/3387
The Engineering & Utilities and Mechanical Engineering departments are partnering on a graduate research project to analyze the potential for future energy districts on the MSU campus. The first central heat pump plant on campus, the Leon Johnson Energy District, was constructed in 2011 to allow energy sharing between four academic buildings.
In August 2017, Mechanical Engineering graduate student Josh Hays began establishing a methodology for simple analysis of the energy sharing potential in a selected group of buildings based on readily available utility information and building characteristics. Josh is developing and testing his approach using buildings on the MSU campus and intends the final methodology to be applicable across any group of buildings for wider industry use. His thesis is available on the MSU library website: https://scholarworks.montana.edu/xmlui/handle/1/15569
The Engineering & Utilities department plans to use information from this project to determine the location and feasibility of the next campus energy district.
The Engineering & Utilities department is currently working on a campus solar feasibility study to determine future solar applications. This project is funded through the Smart Building Initiative (SBI) and is led by Mechanical Engineering undergraduate student Aaron Juntunen. Aaron is analyzing available solar technologies, appropriate campus applications and interconnection options to the campus electrical system. He will present his findings to University Facilities Management and academic staff during the summer of 2018. The Engineering & Utilities department plans to use this information to determine next steps for adding renewable energy resources to campus.
The Engineering & Utilities and Mechanical Engineering departments partnered to analyze the unglazed transpired solar collector (UTSC) installed on Jabs Hall. The purpose of this graduate research project was to bridge the gap between theoretical models and field studies by comparing an accepted UTSC model to experimental data collected at Jabs Hall. The data collected by Mechanical Engineering graduate student Chelsea Guenette was used to characterize the UTSC performance and compare to the energy model results. The conclusions from this project informed future building design at MSU. All buildings constructed since have incorporated the UTSC technology. Chelsea defended her master’s thesis on this topic in 2016.This thesis is available on the MSU library website: https://scholarworks.montana.edu/xmlui/handle/1/9582
MSU students from the Department of Mechanical & Industrial Engineering completed their engineering capstone project for the Engineering & Utilities department. This project analyzed building performance metrics for core academic facilities and identified buildings on campus that would benefit the most from an energy improvement upgrade. The project team also created a standard operating procedure (SOP) for energy calculations and analysis, providing the Engineering & Utilities department with a standardized format and systematic procedure for future data analysis. The capstone project was presented in Spring 2017.
MSU Mechanical Engineering department Associate Professor Kevin Amende and Resource Conservation Specialist Duke Elliot are partnering to offer students the ETME 327 Commercial Building Energy Assessment Lab. The lab utilizes buildings across campus to teach students about engineered systems and learn hands-on energy audit skills. The class follows procedures laid out in the ASHRAE guide “Procedures for Commercial Energy Audits”, exposing students to standards used by industry professionals. Findings from the building energy audits inform future projects and decisions by the Engineering & Utilities department.