MIT Plan to Slash Energy Consumption on Campus Could Save $50 Million


MIT plans to cut their energy use by 15 percent in three years. Photo by Francisco Diez via Flickr.
Guest bloggers Andrea Donsky and Randy Boyer are co-founders of NaturallySavvy.com.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is partnering with NSTAR, a Boston-based utility company, to reduce the institute's electricity use by 15 percent by 2013.

Dubbed "MIT Efficiency Forward," the plan is expected to save 34 million kilowatt hours of electricity in three years -- enough energy to power more than 4,500 Massachusetts homes for a year. And NSTAR says MIT will probably exceed their goals. NSTAR isn't just working with MIT, they're coughing up $1.5 million to the $13-million project, and the utility company will also be helping out with energy-efficiency tools and expertise. Within 10 years, MIT expects it will save $50 million on their utility bills, so it's a money-saving investment.

Meeting the Goals
About half of the energy savings are expected to come from changes to lighting on campus. Plans include shutting off lights when they aren't needed, dimming lights in some spaces, changing lights to models that are better at reflecting light, and where possible, replacing lighting with light emitting diode (LED) bulbs, which last longer and are more energy efficient than both incandescent bulbs and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs).

The other big energy savings is expected to come from changes to the heating and cooling system, as well as ventilation. One simple switch that will save energy is reducing the speed of ventilation fans at night.

The rest of the savings -- about one-sixth -- will come from "behavior-change programs" such as energy-efficiency campaigns and sustainable construction for new buildings.

Initiative is Part of a Comprehensive Sustainability Plan
MIT Efficiency Forward is just one part of a comprehensive plan to green the institute. Other projects include:

  • reducing greenhouse gas emissions by implementing combined heat and power generation
  • minimizing overall waste and enhance recycling
  • renewable power systems
  • using alternative-fuel campus vehicles
  • commuter-benefit programs

Though MIT's plan is aggressive, the institute is not alone in their efforts toward a more sustainable campus. Princeton University has plans to slash their utility usage by 25 percent over 10 years.

More on Greening School and College Campuses
Grading Green Schools: The College Sustainability Report Card 2009
New Carbon Offset Protocol Launched by US College & University Presidents Group
British Agriculture College Harnesses Cow Poop Power

Tags: Boston | Cambridge | Electricity | Energy | Energy Efficiency | Environmental Footprint | Incandescent Bulbs | Massachusetts | Renewable Energy | Universities | Utilities

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