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. The project was completed in December 2022 and saved $100,000 in energy costs in 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. 

Nash hall

A re-commissioning project at Nash Hall started in August 2023 by OSU facilities to address building temperature issues and excess energy use. The project work involved reprogramming the HVAC control system in every room to address inefficient airflow and temperature control. Room by room audits with the help of student workers were conducted to identify failed occupancy sensors, failed heating and cooling equipment, and to calibrate thermostats. Completed in December 2023, the project is on track to exceed its estimated $75,000 in energy costs per year.

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.  

Incandescent lamp replacement

We are on a mission to replace inefficient incandescent lamps! Do you know of any incandescent lamps in OSU buildings? Let us know and we will provide an LED or compact fluorescent lamp free of charge for use on campus. LEDs and CFLs use around 25% of the energy as an incandescent and last over ten times longer! Contact us today and make lighting more efficient!

The savings can be significant: over 10 years ago we changed all the incandescent lamps in the hallways and stairwells of Milam Hall to CFLs.  Total energy savings were nearly $2,000 per year. 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.