Leading Energy Savings & Sustainability


LESS is truly more with the Leading Energy Savings & Sustainability initiative.

WSU is implementing a $12 million campus-wide energy savings and sustainability project that will:

  • dramatically improve campus energy and water efficiency
  • address deferred maintenance
  • reduce WSU’s environmental impact
  • improve educational experiences
  • increase comfort and aesthetics
  • save $26 million over the project’s lifetime

The Leading Energy Savings & Sustainability project will mark WSU as being the Minnesota State System’s most energy efficient university.

It will also feature the largest solar energy system on any Minnesota State campus.

Project Impact


  • Utility Cost Savings = 23.8%
  • Carbon Emissions Reduction Per Year = 25.4%
  • Water Savings in Gallons = 16.4%
  • $26 million cumulative savings anticipated over the 25-year project lifespan
  • Removes $7,500,000 of deferred maintenance from backlog
  • Modernizes and improves facilities
  • Reduces maintenance expenditures

Renewable Energy Impact

  • 6 rooftop solar PV installations at Haake Hall, Helble Hall, Integrated Wellness Center, Kirkland Hall, McCown Gym and Wabasha Recreation Center
  • 4 solar carports in the Integrated Wellness Center parking lot
  • 1.4 MW total solar PV capacity
  • Combined solar PV systems will produce 1,694,845 kWh of renewable energy per year
  • 9.6% of WSU’s annual electricity consumption will be met by on-site solar PV

Energy & Water Savings


  • Electricity: 4,975,121 kWh per year
  • Natural Gas: 225,809 Therms per year
  • Water: 9,816,000 Gallons per year

Project Schedule & Funding


  • Design and bidding is underway in Summer 2021
  • Construction is planned to begin early November 2021
  • Completion is planned by mid-August 2022

Financing Strategy

Project financed on a paid-from-savings basis through a lease purchase agreement. These annual lease payments are structured to be less than the annual guaranteed savings.

There is no cash down for WSU. Plus, the project contractor guarantees annual savings and is responsible for any shortfall, meaning there is no risk to WSU.

The self-funding timeframe is 18 years, and all savings go to WSU after this point.

Community Benefits


  • Largest Guaranteed Energy Savings Program project in the 9-year history of the program
  • Largest Minnesota State campus solar project at 1.4 MW
  • First rooftop solar variance on a Minnesota State campus
  • Makes WSU the most efficient Minnesota State university on a cost/square foot basis
  • Construction provides jobs that contribute money back to the community, with preference toward hiring construction businesses owned by women, veterans and people of minority populations
  • Solar provides STEM learning opportunities

10 Energy & Sustainability Areas of Impact

Highlights

  • Impacts all main campus buildings and grounds
  • Before and after impacts will be very noticeable in most areas, particularly in exterior locations
  • People will experience a standardization of lighting color temperatures across campus
  • Lighting levels will be adjusted to consistently match industry standards

Approximately 22,000 building, pathway, and parking lot lights campus-wide will be converted to high efficiency, long-lasting LED technology.

This upgrade represents a significant energy and carbon reduction opportunity and is focused on maximizing energy efficiency, improving occupant comfort and aesthetics, and reducing maintenance burdens.


Key Outcomes

  • Reduces energy use
  • Addresses deferred maintenance
  • Reduces ongoing maintenance needs
  • Reduces carbon and other emissions
  • Improves comfort and aesthetics of spaces
  • Saves money

Highlights

  • Impacts six building rooftops and the IWC parking lot
  • IWC carports will be the most iconic visual component of the project
  • Introduces solar PV technology to the WSU campus in a big way

Large scale solar photovoltaic systems are not currently present on campus. 100% of electricity consumed on campus is provided by Xcel Energy via grid connection or by standby diesel generators.

This project will construct 1,403 kW (1.4 MW) of solar energy through six rooftop arrays and four carports. As a result, 9.6% of WSU’s annual electricity consumption will be met by on-site solar PV.

PV materials and devices convert sunlight into clean, renewable, carbon free electrical energy.

Location
 kW Output
Haake Hall Rooftop
 34.4 kW
Kirkland Hall Rooftop
 34.4 kW
McCown Gym Rooftop  316.7 kW
Integrated Wellness Center Rooftop  206.6 kW
IWC Parking Lot (Carport)  577.1 kW
Helble Hall Rooftop  151 kW
Wabasha Rec Center Rooftop  83 kW
 Total  1,403 kW

Key Outcomes

  • Reduces energy use
  • Reduces carbon and other emissions
  • Saves money
  • Provides enhanced educational opportunities
  • Positions WSU as a leader in the Minnesota State System

Highlights

  • Impacts 24 main campus buildings
  • Replace every toilet, shower head, urinal, and faucet aerator with modern water saving fixtures

Domestic plumbing fixtures throughout campus consist of mainly standard flow and some reduced flow systems.

This project will upgrade hundreds of fixtures with modern, high-performance, ultra-low flow fixtures in order to generate maximum water and energy savings while simultaneously meeting user performance and comfort expectations.


Key Outcomes

  • Reduces water use
  • Addresses deferred maintenance
  • Reduces ongoing maintenance needs
  • Reduces carbon and other emissions
  • Saves money

Highlights

  • Impacts all campus buildings
  • Improved system performance will result in more comfortable classrooms, meeting spaces and offices

HVAC and major mechanical equipment throughout campus are controlled primarily through a Building Automation System (BAS).

This upgrade will provide enhanced alignment of the multiple control system types and vintages present on campus by updating BAS graphics and programming as well as by expanding the capabilities of the system to track real time building conditions.

This will drive maximum efficiency of controlled systems and increase system performance.


Key Outcomes

  • Reduces energy use
  • Addresses deferred maintenance
  • Reduces ongoing maintenance needs
  • Reduces carbon and other emissions
  • Improves comfort of spaces
  • Saves money

Highlights

  • Impacts irrigation systems serving all areas of main campus
  • Improved system performance so that watering will be reduced overall and conducted only when necessary

Irrigation controllers will be upgraded throughout campus.

Upgraded smart controllers will detect soil moisture content and actual and predicted rainfall amounts to adjust sprinkler usage and eliminate excess water consumption through over-watering.

Plant types will also be programmed into the controllers to provide customized watering rates, thereby driving additional savings.


Key Outcomes

  • Reduces water use
  • Addresses deferred maintenance
  • Reduces ongoing maintenance needs
  • Saves money

Highlights

  • Impacts 24 buildings and the underground utility tunnels

Steam, heating hot water, domestic hot water, chilled water, and condensate piping are present throughout campus.

Proper insulation is critical to ensuring that heat transfer is minimized as working fluids are distributed throughout campus and within each building.

Heat transfer through uninsulated or poorly insulated piping represents a constant waste of energy.

This project will cover sections of piping with missing or damaged insulation with new insulation that meets or exceeds energy code.

Additional areas that were left uninsulated after original building construction due to cost concerns will also be insulated as part of this project.


Key Outcomes

  • Reduces energy use
  • Addresses deferred maintenance
  • Reduces carbon and other emissions
  • Saves money

Highlights

  • Impacts the Memorial Pool
  • Less harsh chemical treatment will improve experience for swimmers
  • No longer need to store and use large amounts of hazardous chemicals

A constant volume pump currently circulates water through the pool, filtration systems, chemical feeders, and heat exchanger. The pump operates at maximum speed regardless of occupancy, filter condition, or heating needs.

This project will replace the existing inefficient system with a new highly efficient control system with real time monitoring of pool chemistry, filter condition, temperature level, and occupancy.

A Variable Frequency Drive (VFD) will vary pump speeds to meet required water changes while reducing energy consumption.

The existing pool chemical treatment program relies on traditional methods using manually administered chlorine and pH control substances. This requires bulk storage of chlorine and other hazardous chemicals, exposing maintenance staff and building users to potentially dangerous conditions.

The chemical treatment system will be upgraded with an on-site sodium hypochlorite generating system. Sodium hypochlorite generators produce pool chlorination chemicals from the electrochemical reaction between salt, water, and electricity.

On-site production of chlorine as a solution of sodium hypochlorite alleviates the risks to public health and safety relating to the storage and transportation of hazardous acid and concentrated chlorine solutions.

The only raw material, salt, is an inert, safe compound that is stored in a feeder on-site and used as required by the chlorine generator.


Key Outcomes

  • Reduces energy use
  • Reduces water use
  • Addresses deferred maintenance
  • Reduces ongoing maintenance needs
  • Reduces carbon and other emissions
  • Improves comfort and safety of spaces
  • Saves money

Highlights

  • Impacts 17 buildings
  • Small upgrades will lead to major savings

Gaps and improper sealing of building exteriors can lead to excessive air leakage, which results in increased energy costs and the potential for airborne contaminants and odors to enter buildings.

Building weatherproofing improvement opportunities have been identified in several buildings.

The primary focus of these opportunities are exterior door weather-stripping as well as window caulking.

These weatherproofing measures will prevent air movement and reduce energy costs associated with heating, cooling, and ventilating.

Key Outcomes

  • Reduces energy use
  • Addresses deferred maintenance
  • Reduces ongoing maintenance needs
  • Reduces carbon and other emissions
  • Improves comfort of spaces
  • Saves money

Highlights

  • Impacts the three diesel generators used to provide backup electricity for the main campus

Three diesel generators provide backup electricity for the main campus. The generators require engine block heaters to operate continuously in order to provide immediate start capability under cold weather conditions.

Inefficient electric resistance heaters are currently used to keep the engine blocks warm. These will be replaced with high efficiency heat pumps that will be connected to each generator to serve as the primary heating source.

This will allow the engine block heaters to operate using less energy and at a lower operating cost to the University.


Key Outcomes

  • Reduces energy use
  • Reduces ongoing maintenance needs
  • Reduces carbon and other emissions
  • Saves money

Highlights

  • Impacts McCown Gym, IWC Gym, and the IWC Atrium
  • The fans will be noticeable, but high up and not in typical plan view

Interior spaces with high ceilings are subject to air stratification which results in temperature differentials of up to 20°F between the floor and ceiling.

During winter months this causes accelerated heat transfer through the building roof resulting in increased heating demand and reduced occupant comfort.

Installation of destratification fans will equalize temperature throughout the spaces and reduce unnecessary heat loss.

Fans will be installed within several feet of the ceiling in each space to distribute warm air back down to occupied areas.

Fan height, distribution, and speed are designed to prevent noticeable drafts by occupants. Integrated control systems will only operate fans when detrimental stratification is detected.


Key Outcomes

  • Reduces energy use
  • Reduces carbon and other emissions
  • Improves comfort of spaces
  • Saves money