The University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research was established in 1949 and has become the world's largest social science focused research center. Researchers from all over the world have come to use the laboratory and make great strides in understanding human behavior. While the building houses social science survey research, the facilities team at the University is on a mission to reduce utilities, optimize energy use, and conserve where they can.
Recently, the University signed on to the Carbon Neutrality Initiative, commiting to zero carbon and Scope 1, Scope 2, and Scope 3 by 2050. They have begun conducting campus wide projects to help reach that goal. The Institute for Social research was a stand out project due to a whole building tune-up initiative. Each air handler at the facility was manually checked and the Building Automation System was internally audited to verify sensor readings and overall proper function. The outside air dampers were found to be 100% open and were adjusted accordingly. In addition, the large steam absorption chiller was replaced with a more efficient electric chiller. Both projects created an immediate drop in utility use.
The tune-up performed at this building is not uncommon on campus. The facilities team is diligent in remotely monitoring the Building Automation Systems and adjusting schedules and setpoints when necessary. While the pandemic heavily impacted the University, the facilities team made sure schedules were adjusted properly. They spent about $8,000 on the tune up and about $2,000,000 on the chiller and saved about $3,500 annually. It was noted in our interview that the chiller was originally not considered an energy project, while efficiency was considered, the savings were not reported. Future projects include converting almost 200 buildings from fluorescent to LED lighting. They have even hired 5 interns to help count all of the lights!
We were thrilled to celebrate the progress and energy efficiency accomplishments of the University of Michigan on June 15, 2022 at our 8th Annual Michigan Energy Summit, where they were awarded in the University Category!