Michigan State University to lead by example in energy improvements

The MSU Energy Transition Plan has bold goals for improved efficiency and use of renewable fuels.

Michigan State University is taking “going green” seriously. The University has recently established an Energy Transition Plan that details how it will reduce emissions, become more energy efficient and adopt renewable energy practices. The long-term plan has an aggressive goal of becoming reliant on renewable energy alone. This goal will take time and may include technology that is not yet developed.

MSU currently operates its own steam and electrical generation facility to provide heat and electricity to its 550 buildings that are used by its 47,000 students and 13,000 employees. Initially, the plant burned 100 percent coal, but has added the capability to burn natural gas and plant biomass. Natural gas is currently cheaper than coal and burns cleaner. The carbon footprint of plant biomass is even lower. Blending of fuels is one method of reducing carbon emissions and increasing the use of renewable energy sources. In order to achieve 100 percent energy independence, it will require the utilization of several technologies, some of which are still be developed.

The plan is a proactive step for the University to remain a steward of our natural resources. Additionally, it addresses increasing fuel expenses and environmental regulation while meeting the increasing energy needs of the campus.

There are three overriding goals of the plan.

  1. Improve the physical environment. Improve energy conservation and efficiency and utilize more renewable fuels.
  2. Invest in sustainable energy research and development. Research and demonstration of new technologies and create cross functional collaboration within the University.
  3. Become an educational leader in sustainable energy. Educate stakeholders and share lessons learned.

The fact that MSU is a land grant university creates a perfect fit for the education and demonstration of research and experience of this effort. Michigan State University Extension will help to disseminate the important information that is gained and that can be useful to others.

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