Published: Dec. 2, 2011

MSU a partner in national energy-saving initiative

Contact(s): Tom Oswald Media Communications office: (517) 432-0920 cell: (517) 281-7129, Bill Latta Finance and Operations office: (517) 355-5016

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State University President Lou Anna K. Simon was among a host of dignitaries who met Dec. 2 in Washington, D.C. with President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton, helping launch an initiative designed to promote the construction and retro-commissioning of more energy-efficient buildings in the United States.

MSU is a partner in the Better Buildings Challenge, an initiative that calls on chief executive officers, university presidents and state and local leaders to make a substantial commitment to energy efficiency, and recognizes the organizations they lead for achieving results.

MSU, along with other partners, will work to help make university, commercial and industrial buildings in the United States more efficient by achieving a 20 percent reduction in energy use by 2020. It’s estimated that such an energy reduction would save American businesses more than $40 billion in energy costs.

Simon was among about 50 industry CEOs, university presidents and others that took part in the Friday event, which was hosted by U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu.

The Better Buildings Challenge is part of the Better Buildings Initiative that President Obama launched in February. The effort is led by former President Clinton, through the William J. Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative, together with the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.

“We are honored to be an integral part of this discussion,” Simon said. “We are ready to accept the challenge of improving the energy efficiency of our main campus buildings, about 20 million square feet of building space, targeting the energy reduction goal of this initiative.”

The university has already taken a number of steps to increase energy efficiency in its buildings.

  • All new on-campus construction is built to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-certified levels. The MSU Surplus Store and Recycling Center has a LEED gold certification, as does the College of Human Medicine’s Secchia Center in Grand Rapids. An addition to the Chemistry Building is silver certified, as is the dairy facility at the Kellogg Biological Station.
  • Retro-commissioning is under way in more than 100 on-campus buildings. Recent retro-commissioning to Erickson Hall has resulted in a 32 percent reduction in energy use.
  • A new addition to the MSU Life Sciences Building will use geothermal energy.
  • Evening classes are scheduled more efficiently, with classes being held in fewer buildings, a practice that is reducing energy use.  Occupancy sensors that automatically reduce light levels and turn off lights in unoccupied classrooms are scheduled to be installed in all university classrooms by the end of the academic year. 
  • Energy monitors have been installed in two on-campus residence halls which allow students and staff to monitor energy use in the building. 
  • MSU has instituted the Energy Educator and the Environmental Steward programs, both designed to promote environmental changes and energy savings in campus buildings.

For more information on MSU’s sustainability efforts, visit or


Michigan State University has been working to advance the common good in uncommon ways for more than 150 years. One of the top research universities in the world, MSU focuses its vast resources on creating solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges, while providing life-changing opportunities to a diverse and inclusive academic community through more than 200 programs of study in 17 degree-granting colleges.