Growth on U-M campus is up, but energy use is down, report shows
While U-M grew last year at a rapid 8-percent clip — including the campus' largest physical expansion in 60 years — its aggressive sustainability efforts simultaneously have cut normalized energy use by 4 percent, water use by 3 percent and resulted in a decrease in per-person trash levels of nearly 5 percent, according to the institution's Sustainability Annual Report.
In 44 buildings where special "Planet Blue" operations teams have refitted buildings with energy-saving devices and changed basic occupant behaviors, total energy savings of 12 percent and cost avoidance of nearly $3.5 million annually have been realized, according to the annual evaluation that looks at the institution's performance across a range of sustainability issues, including 155 individual metrics covering energy, land and water use and waste reduction.
"The University of Michigan has undergone tremendous growth this past decade, yet concerted efforts to control energy usage have yielded the kind of positive results we see today and have seen in previous years," says Terry Alexander, executive director of the Office of Campus Sustainability. "A multi-pronged strategy for controlling energy usage, including building system upgrades, regional chiller plants, the engagement of the campus community and other programs, is working here at U of M."
During the period of July 1, 2009, through June 30, 2010, normalized energy demand on the Ann Arbor campus decreased nearly 4 percent from the same period the previous year, even while the university experienced an 8.3 percent growth in square footage and nearly 2 percent increase in campus population. This growth includes the addition of nearly 2 million gross square-feet of research and support space through its acquisition of the former Pfizer campus now known as the North Campus Research Complex. "Normalized" energy demand is a calculation of total energy use per person, per square foot. Energy consumption is just one area covered in the Sustainability Annual Report.
Other highlights from the Sustainability Annual Report include:
• Renewable energy sources comprise 16 percent of the total energy used for campus transportation systems, and alternative energy increased with the purchase of 5 mega watts of wind energy through its partnership with DTE Energy. This is the first time the university has incorporated wind power into its alternative energy portfolio.
• Water use decreased by 3 percent in fiscal year 2010 versus FY 2009, and represents the lowest recorded water use on the Ann Arbor campus in the last seven years.
• The university continues to focus on controlled growth of its land resources, which total more than 3,200 acres in the Ann Arbor area. The university maintains 2,660 acres of natural green space, 732 acres of lawns and flower beds, and 1,928 acres of forest and fields.
• In FY 2010, the university generated 16,000 tons of solid waste, which is equal to 410 pounds per person, a decrease from the 430 pounds per person generated in FY 2009.
This year's sustainability annual report also includes information on the university's academic programs, research efforts, student programs and the range of initiatives focused on campus outreach and engagement related to sustainability. Alexander said that by bringing together all sustainability activities at U-M — one of the primary objectives when the Office of Campus Sustainability was formed in October 2009 — the university's sustainability program only will strengthen in the future.
"The sustainability work being done within academics, research and operations has been ongoing for decades at U-M," Alexander says. "By connecting all three areas, we will strengthen our programs and provide our students with a campus that is a living and learning laboratory while maintaining our unwavering commitment to environmental responsibility."