Board of Trustees approve $44 million in energy system improvements, new energy advancement and innovation center

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Ohio State’s Board of Trustees approved a $44 million project to improve the university’s energy systems Thursday. Credit: Courtesy of Ohio State

Ohio State’s Board of Trustees approved a $44 million project to improve the university’s energy systems Thursday.

The project is the fourth of five phases of the Ohio State Energy Partners emergency efficiency measures to reduce the annual energy consumption for 40 academic, administration, medical, athletic and student residence buildings on campus by an average of more than 25 percent.

“Today’s approval of the Ohio State Energy Partner’s proposed IV project is another significant step toward our sustainability goal,” Scott Potter, senior director of comprehensive energy management in the Office of Business and Finance, said.

Based upon the building-specific energy audits performed in 2020, measures to improve energy efficiency will include heat recovery chillers in the East Regional Chilled Water plant, air-handling optimizations and upgrades to fan and pump drives, according to the project updates.

Ohio State announced its goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 in 2008 , releasing its Climate Action Plan in 2011, according to Ohio State’s Sustainability Institute website. The 2011 plan outlined actions the university could take to reach its neutrality goal— including the installation of heat recovery chillers, geothermal heating and cooling and regional chiller plants.

According to its April 2020 action plan, the university may achieve a 55 percent emissions reduction by 2030 by improving building energy efficiency, diversifying energy sources and acknowledging its own transportation-related emissions.

Since the 2011 action plan was adopted, the university has reduced its Columbus campus carbon emissions by over 15 percent, according to the 2020 action plan.

In addition to system improvements, the Energy Advancement and Innovation Center was approved to increase research collaborations and accelerate the transition to a zero-carbon economy, according to the meeting agenda. The project will cost over $10.4 million.

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