Green Campus Spotlight: PSU joins forces with Nike, Portland and others on campus energy
Author: Campus Sustainability Office
Posted: May 2, 2013

Portland State is getting strategic about energy management, thanks to a program run by Energy Trust of Oregon.

PSU joined this year a class of organizations that will work on campus-wide energy management strategy. Others in the group include Nike, the city of Portland, the Oregon Convention Center and Lewis and Clark College.

“Energy Champions” from each organization are in the midst of working with the Energy Trust’s Strategic Energy Management program to set energy usage benchmarks and develop a plan to improve efficiency across buildings.

Consultants who run the program for Energy Trust developed an algorithm to accurately track usage and forecast future use for 3.9 million square feet of building space at PSU while controlling for changes in occupancy and weather. That’s about 80 percent of the campus and includes research buildings, classrooms, offices, residence halls and recreation facilities.

Noel Mingo, utilities manager for PSU, said the Strategic Energy Management process will provide helpful, third-party validation for ongoing energy efficiency work being done on campus in addition to uncovering new opportunities for more improvements.

Some of those ideas may come from the other participants in the program who talk every other week and will meet in person seven times over the course of the program, which runs through November.

“It’s a great forum to interact with individuals working on similar problems,” Mingo said. “It’s helpful to talk to others who are implementing changes in big organizations.”

Participants are charged with taking action on seven main energy-related objectives, including:

  • Getting organizational leadership to support energy reduction goals,
  • Identifying and implementing the best building management practices for efficiency,
  • Making smart capital investments to improve efficiency,
  • Establishing purchasing policies that minimize total cost of ownership,
  • Adopting new construction policies to maximize energy reduction,
  • Engaging and empowering building occupants to reduce consumption, and
  • Tracking and reporting energy performance.

“There’s a lot of this that goes hand in hand with the work we’re doing on the Climate Action Plan,” Mingo said.

He added that his department is working with the Campus Sustainability Office to develop an energy policy for the campus that would also help to prompt improvements in energy performance.

One change is already on the horizon: for the first time this budget cycle, each PSU building will have its own utility budget. Linking baseline tracking with the budgeting process will provide greater insight into campus energy usage and help develop goals for future changes in operations and capital projects.

One result of the Strategic Energy Management program will be a robust energy tracking system that PSU will use for the next two years as Mingo and others fine-tune efficiency efforts. At the end of that period, Energy Trust will pay small incentives based on the energy saved: two cents for every kilowatt hour, 20 cents for every therm of natural gas saved.

PSU will use that incentive as seed money to pay for even more efficiency improvements.