University launches sustainability and energy innovation partnership
The university’s Comprehensive Energy Management Project officially launched on July 6. Approved by the Board of Trustees in April, it will improve Ohio State’s energy efficiency while advancing the next generation of sustainable energy solutions. In the first 10 years, energy efficiency on the Columbus campus will improve by at least 25 percent.
On July 6, the university transferred management of the central systems that heat, cool and power the Columbus campus to ENGIE Services, which will operate these systems on behalf of Ohio State Energy Partners (OSEP).
OSEP is made up of ENGIE North America and Axium Infrastructure, companies that are world leaders in energy services and sustainability.
“This innovative public-private partnership will help us reach our long-term sustainability goals for energy and represents the largest single investment in Ohio State’s academic mission in our history,” said President Michael V. Drake.
The 50-year partnership has a total value of $1.165 billion, including a $1.015 upfront payment to the university and a $150 million commitment to support academics in specific areas requested by students, faculty and staff during the bidding process.
“Through academic collaborations with our new partner, we will create sustainable energy solutions from discoveries made here at Ohio State. Our new partner will also increase student financial aid, endow new faculty positions and invest in sustainability and staff development,” said Executive Vice President and Provost Bruce A. McPheron.
The Office of Academic Affairs will engage faculty, staff and students in discussions about academic collaboration — including next steps for an endowment to advance sustainability in areas outside the scope of comprehensive energy management; sustainability curriculum and teaching and learning initiatives; and more.
These are part of a $150 million academic collaboration plan in the partnership.
The university will invest the other $1.015 billion alongside the endowment to support student financial aid; compensation enhancements for faculty and staff; investments in classrooms, labs and arts spaces; strategic initiatives; and a utility sustainability fund.
The transfer of operations will be largely unnoticeable. As was the case before the transition, any customer service requests for campus buildings will be handled by the university’s Service2Facilities group. All individual building operations will continue to be the responsibility of campus maintenance teams.
Consistent with the university’s commitment to empower employees to make the best choice for their families, ENGIE Services offered employment to all eligible Ohio State utility workers. The majority of utility employees accepted employment offers from ENGIE. Those who preferred to remain employees of the university accepted alternative positions at Ohio State at their current compensation levels.
OSEP will begin installing smart meters this year to gather building-specific data about energy use. The information will help guide the proposals for energy conservation measures throughout campus to meet Ohio State’s energy sustainability goal. An Energy Advisory Committee of students, faculty and staff representatives will be formed to review proposals for energy conservation measures, among other responsibilities.
“The smooth transition of operations sets the stage for the truly transformational benefits for our university community,” said McPheron. “Ohio State will invest in our academic core, make our campus a model of sustainability and bolster ground-breaking research that benefits our university, our community and our world.”
More information about the Comprehensive Energy Management Project is available at go.osu.edu/cemp.