2020 Awardee: University of Michigan’s Office of Campus Sustainability Recognized as “Campus Collaborator”

On August 12th, 2021 at the Michigan Energy Summit, the University of Michigan, Office of Campus Sustainability (OCS) of Ann Arbor, MI was recognized by the Michigan Battle of the Buildings with the Campus Collaborator Award. Historically an impressive competitor in the Michigan Battle of the Buildings, this year the ingenuity of U of M facilities departments’ teamwork integrated management approach championed energy efficiency and occupant health & safety logistics among campus buildings during the pandemic. 

University of Michigan's Campus in Ann Arbor. Photo Cred: University of Michigan Library

The University of Michigan formed a valuable collaboration named the HVAC COVID Workgroup to ensure high standards of safety, responsive building energy management, and holistic campus stewardship in such a dynamic year. The expertise contributing to the HVAC COVID Workgroup included representation from the OCS; Environment, Health, and Safety (EHS); the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC); and the Maintenance Services. This collaboration demonstrated the shared genius required for sustained success from resilient response teams. 

The HVAC COVID team tackled the crisis with a common goal - establish safe operating protocols in occupied spaces while reducing energy load in vacant and unused areas of buildings. The Office of Campus Sustainability (OCS) helped identify opportunities to save energy and continue the pursuit of carbon reductions while supporting fellow facilities departments to maintain safe buildings for occupants.  

University of Michigan accepting their award at the 2021 Michigan Energy Summit.

In a “normal” year, university building schedules change constantly for new semesters, facilities renovations, special events, and so on. Add the pandemic into the mix, and you can imagine that the U of M facilities teams had their arms full. In adapting to virtual learning, some auditoriums stayed open for professors to lecture to a screen and empty seats. Sports continued in various capacities, and lab experiments remained. The OCS and colleagues kept the university humming while guarding the institution's health & safety and carbon priorities. 

This required planning and rescheduling building management systems to optimize energy in large buildings now requiring only minimal spaces to be fully conditioned. Other actions included discharge air schedule resets where possible, and adjustments to fan schedules to match new occupancy levels. The team also supported plug load reductions by turning the equipment off and keeping their building tune-up program going strong throughout the pandemic.  

Congratulations to the University of Michigan Office of Campus Sustainability's effective campus stewardship which prioritized human health and carbon emissions in unprecedented circumstances. This collaboration demonstrated the shared genius required for sustained success from resilient response teams.