University ahead of schedule on sustainability initiative

STARKVILLE — Upgrading infrastructure and making operations more efficient are two key changes that have allowed Mississippi State University to reduce its energy consumption by 37 percent.

Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning created the Energy Task Force in 2006 and set a goal, by 2016, for Mississippi universities to reduce their energy consumption by 30 percent per square foot. J.D. Hardy, MSU energy and mechanical engineer for the university’s Sustainability Committee, said MSU is already years ahead of schedule, thanks to the university-wide focus on incorporating infrastructure upgrades and encouraging more efficient building operation.

Continued renovations across campus also have played a big role in lowering campus energy consumption at MSU, he said. By replacing older water boilers and chillers with more efficient ones, the university is developing effective strategies for long-term savings. Additionally, new facilities at MSU are designed and constructed with the most efficient building systems available.

In fiscal year 2006, campus electric and natural gas consumption totaled 162,000 British thermal units per square foot, he said, but the Sustainability Committee and its resource-efficiency plan has decreased MSU’s Energy Usage Index to its current level: 102,000 Btu in 2012.

“If we had continued to use energy at the fiscal year 2006 levels from 2007 to 2012, we would have spent over $21 million more on electricity and natural gas, due to the higher rate of consumption,” Hardy said. “Considering that campus grows in square footage every year and energy rates go up every year, it is increasingly important that we lower our Energy Usage Index as much as possible every year.”

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