How an energy planning tool changed decision-making at MSU

What if you had to identify solutions and implement changes that would result in a 45 percent greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction for your organization by 2020?

What if your goals also included achieving a 20 percent increase in your renewable energy sources by 2020? As a leader aware of your limited financial resources, how would you guide your organization to success?

Generically, these would be difficult questions. But with the specific constraints of 10,000 employees, 580 buildings, 5,200 acres of land, a 100 megawatt power plant that is primarily coal-fired, 48,000 students who use the campus daily, 16,000 permanent residents and sub-optimal annual weather conditions (77 sunny days, average wind of 9 miles per hour and 49 inches of snow), the "what ifs" of this type can seem impossible to address.

At Michigan State University (MSU), the complexity of these constraints provided an opportunity for the institution to look for a tool that would help everyone understand the impact of a decision against a set of key performance indicators, or metrics, that are most important to the university (see next page). Like businesses, colleges and universities have many stakeholders, all of whom have different points of view and opinions about paths towards environmental progress.

MSU was searching for such a tool that could provide everyone the quick ability to see the trade-offs of each environmental scenario, thereby identifying the missed opportunities and efficiencies to be gained.

Next page: Developing the right tool