Energy Overview: Building Efficiency, Renewable Energy, Policies, & Utility Data

Energy is central to OSU's sustainability efforts. The university strives to improve energy use practices by enhancing efficiency in buildings while also utilizing on-site and off-site renewable energy (see "Renewable Energy" page), implementing energy policies (see "Energy Policies and Rules" page), and collecting transparent, publicly-available, real-time utility data (see "Metering" page). 

In 2022, the university adopted a Path to Carbon Neutrality to guide our carbon reduction strategies going forward. This plan has been informed by significant engagement throughout the university community, including with faculty, staff, and students, and by benchmarking with peer universities nationally. Energy is the focus of several actions in the Path to Carbon Neutrality. For example, as part of Action 1 in the Path to Carbon Neutrality, heating and cooling system tune-ups and calibration will occur within at least two existing buildings each year. As part of Action 2, heating and cooling systems, building controls, lighting, and other aging systems will be replaced and upgraded to improve energy efficiency in existing buildings. 

Existing Buildings Projects

Linus Pauling Science Center

A re-commissioning project at Linus Pauling Science Center started in September 2022 by OSU facilities to address building temperature and airflow issues, repair neglected equipment, and improve control of the building’s large mechanical systems. The project is focused on replacing or fixing faulty sensors and equipment and improving sequences of operation for energy efficiency and reliability. Energy savings are being tracked through utility and building automation data. Estimated completion is February 2023. 

Coast Range Building

The off-campus Coast Range Building was purchased to help relocate Cordley Hall occupants during construction. A re-commissioning project started in June 2022 by OSU facilities to address ongoing maintenance issues as well as improve energy efficiency. The project addressed improving the control of air handling units that were rapidly cycling between heating and cooling. Completed in August 2022, the re-commissioning will prolong the life of the building’s mechanical equipment and annually save $15,800 in energy costs. 

Burt Hall Mass Spectrometer Labs

A project started in June 2022 by OSU facilities to address airflow and temperature concerns for lab spaces in Burt Hall. Investigation into the lab issues revealed excessive airflow resulting in poor temperature control and excess energy use. The lab mechanical systems are being converted to a variable flow system, allowing mechanical systems to increase or decrease airflow based on temperature needs. Estimated energy savings are $30,000 in annual savings. Estimated completion is April 2023.

Capital Improvement Projects

Cordley Hall

Renovation of the Integrative Biology Department’s 236,000 square-foot building began in June 2020 and includes new mechanical and building automation systems focused on energy efficiency. The new mechanical system includes heat recovery chillers, chillers that produce chilled water for cooling while also rejecting heat that can be used for heating. The new systems also utilize energy efficient chilled beams and radiant heating, and variable airflow systems for lab spaces. The full renovation will be completed in 2024 and is estimated to save $540,000 above Oregon’s minimum energy code requirement for new construction. 

North District Utility Plant

The North DUP is a new facility that supplies chilled water to several research buildings on campus including the renovation of Cordley Hall. Construction started in Summer of 2020 and was completed in Fall of 2021. The centralized chilled water plant includes three 1,500 ton high efficiency magnetic levitation bearing chillers and six cooling towers. Estimated annual energy savings are $177,000.  

Energy Center

The Energy Center is a combined heat and power plant that generates electricity and steam to supply OSU’s campus. The existing back pressure steam turbine generator is currently not used due to its inability to manage the variable steam demand from the campus. A dual-pressure steam turbine system is being installed that can handle variable steam demand as well as generation during the summer months when the campus has less steam demand. Estimated annual energy savings are $530,000.

Incandescent lamp replacement

Do you have an incandescent lamp in an overhead fixture or desk lamp in your office? Like the light but hate the inefficiency? Then the Sustainability Office has an offer for you: we will provide a compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) free of charge if it replaces an incandescent lamp and stays on campus. Not only do CFLs use just 25% of the energy, they also last ten times as long as incandescents, meaning fewer annoying bulb change-outs. Many of the old problems of flicker, hum, 'cold' white light and slow start times have been fixed. There are a variety of wattages to chose from, contact us today and make your lighting more efficient!

OSU is also actively changing out incandescent lamps with CFLs in common spaces such as hallways, stairwells and restrooms. The savings can be significant: by changing all the incandescent lamps in the hallways and stairwells of Milam Hall to CFLs, total energy savings are near $2,000 annually.

As well, many exit signs in buildings have been upgraded to use LEDs (light emitting diodes). LEDs use 1/25th of the energy of incandescents and are rated to last 130,000 hours, compared with 10,000 for CFLs and 1,000 for incandescents.

Your help is invaluable in locating incandescent lamps. If you see an incandescent lamp you think should be replaced, please let us know.

Outdoor lighting fine-tuning

One of the most visible signs of energy inefficiency is outdoor lighting that is on during dawn, daylight or dusk. A covered or dirty photo sensor or incorrectly set timer will keep these lights on during times they shouldn't be. We are always looking for outside lights improperly controlled.

Tell us about incorrect timing of outdoor lighting, including if a light fails at night which could create a safety issue.