MIT and NStar to save $50M in energy

Hope is 34 million kWh in 3 years

Last week Wednesday, May 26, MIT announced its “Efficiency Forward” initiative aimed at drastically cutting MIT’s energy use and cost over the next three years.

MIT’s goal is to conserve 34 million kilowatt-hours over the next three years. By comparison, MIT’s average energy consumption over the past 14 days was 24,950 kilowatts, or 18 million kilowatt-hours per month.

MIT expects the energy savings to translate into a cost savings of approximately $50 million.

According to Steven M. Lanou, MIT’s Deputy Director of Environmental Sustainability, “lighting retrofits are expected to contribute about half the savings, new construction features about 20 percent, and chilled water, HVAC [Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning], fume hood system retrofits contributing the balance.”

MIT has repeatedly declined to provide details about how it obtained the $50 million and 34 million kWh numbers. Components of the savings include $1 million saved from lighting and ventilation upgrades in buildings W20, 18, and 32, $2.5 million saved from real-time ventilation control in buildings 16, 18, 56, 68, W35, and NW35, and $486,000 saved from fume hood flow reductions in building 18.

The effort is a collaboration with NStar, the electricity provider that MIT buys supplemental electricity from.

MIT’s own cogeneration plant only produces about 20 megawatts, which is not enough to meet the campus’s current energy needs.

Joseph R. Nolan, NStar’s Senior Vice President of Customer and Corporate Relations, described the initiative as the “largest energy efficiency project that we have ever embarked on.” NStar serves 1.4 million customers in eastern and central Massachusetts.

In addition to expert knowledge, NStar will be contributing about $1.5 million to the project.

Asked for a further breakdown of where the calculated 34 million kilowatt-hours will be saved, Lanou said, “At this point we can only provide the broad details … But as we develop the program each semester, we will be able to provide more details as the analysis on specific projects is carried out.”