Montana State University continues investment in energy efficiency with $500,000 for planning

By District Energy posted 10-21-2021 13:05


Montana State University


Leveraging more than a decade of efforts to improve the energy efficiency of its buildings, Montana State University is poised to significantly expand its use of energy-saving technologies, including the innovative "energy districts" that have earned MSU national recognition.

With approval from the Board of Regents in September, MSU intends to spend up to $500,000 on comprehensive energy planning for existing and future campus buildings, an investment that will likely result in millions of dollars in energy savings over coming decades.

"This allows us to take what we've done already and push it far into the future," said Megan Sterl, MSU's director of engineering and utilities. "It's a forward-looking, holistic approach to using our resources as efficiently as we can."

MSU has already found success with energy districts after retrofitting the heating, ventilation and cooling, or HVAC, systems in its Leon Johnson, Wilson and Tietz halls. Devices called heat pumps were added to regulate the buildings' temperature by transferring heat to where it's needed. The heat pump system was connected to geothermal "boreholes" that were built when MSU constructed Jabs Hall, which opened in 2015. These underground pipes are encased in heat-conducting grout and plunge to a depth of 500 feet, allowing unused warmth to be stored for later in the day or season. By allowing excess heat to be shared among the four buildings or stored in the geothermal system, the retrofit of Leon Johnson, Wilson and Tietz halls cut energy use by 40% — saving about $130,000 per year, or approximately $1.7 million since 2007.

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