College Campuses Teaming with Utilities to meet HVAC, Sustainability Goals

Ohio State, Purdue University part of trend to outsource management of systems.   March 3, 2023

By Dave Lubach, Managing Editor

Ohio State University is part of a growing trend on university campuses to outsource managing power/HVAC systems to achieve environmental goals and cut costs. 

In an online report from the Daily Energy Insider, in 2017, Ohio State entered a 50-year integrated solutions agreement with a gas and electricity supplier and investment firm to lease out the university’s energy assets for the 485-building campus in Columbus. The agreement is valued at $1.2 billion according to the article. So far, a $91 million investment has reduced energy consumption by 11 percent, according to Brett Garrett, director of energy at the university’s Facilities Operations and Development. 

The university is putting the finishing touches on an on-campus combined heat and power plant, scheduled for completion this fall, which will provide energy to new academic, medical and research spaces on campus. It will eventually replace an outdated, century-old natural-gas-fueled heating facility

Similar agreements are taking place at large campuses across the country, such as in neighboring state Indiana, where Purdue University teamed up with Duke Energy, which operates a 16-megawatt natural-gas powered plant on campus. The plant has been in operation since April 2022 and provides thermal energy in the form of steam for heating and hot water needs. Duke Energy provides the power and Purdue purchases the steam from the utility. 

Dave Lubach is managing editor of the Facilities Market. 


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