Montana State University energy and operations improvements expected to save $370,000 annually

June 2012

June 21, 2012 — MSU News Service

An efficiency program underway at Montana State University is expected to reduce energy and operations costs by $370,000 annually, once completed later this fall.

McKinstry, a consulting, construction, energy and facility services firm, has been hired by MSU for the work, which is focused on the university’s auxiliary buildings. MSU’s auxiliary buildings include the Student Union Building, residence halls, the Brick Breeden Field House, and the Hosaeus Fitness Center. Student and user fees support the construction, operations and maintenance of auxiliary buildings.

“In the long run, this program will not only pay for a large portion of itself through energy and operations saving but it will give our students more comfortable residence halls, better lighting at sporting events and, generally, help the university operate in a more sustainable manner, something we know students look for when choosing schools,” said Tom Stump, director of MSU’s Auxiliary Services.

MSU has been working with McKinstry since 2010, when the firm began an audit of approximately 2 million square feet of auxiliary buildings to identify potential energy and operations improvements.

“Students will definitely notice a difference when we’re done with many of these projects,” said Jeff Davis, McKinstry project director. “Just one example is the replacement of the original, single-paned windows in many residence halls – some of which are more than 50 years old. That will make rooms warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer for students.”

Work has already begun to replace interior lighting across all auxiliary buildings – some of which are so old that replacement fixtures can no longer be found. Work has also begun on fitting new, energy-efficient windows in the Hannon, Hapner and Langford residence halls, where more than 1,000 students live. In total, $9 million of energy and operations efficiency work is being done this summer and fall.

One of the most noticeable phases of the overall project began in mid June with the demolition of 50 of 136 houses known locally as the “Monopoly Houses” for their resemblance to the toy houses used in the game Monopoly. The buildings to be taken down are along College Street, west of 11th Avenue.

Once used for graduate-student housing, the majority of the 50 houses set for demolition are extremely deteriorated and haven’t been occupied for years. However, due to the way the water utilities were built for the entire complex of houses in the 1950s and early 1960s, MSU has continued to heat them to prevent freezing damage to its larger water-utility system.

The remaining 86 houses will receive low-flow water fixtures as well as a water shutoff valve installed between each house and the water main feeding it. Removal of the houses and completion of upgrades are expected to be done by early August.

McKinstry will be using approximately 15 local Montana consultants and contractors for the overall project across campus and at times will employ as many as 60 to 70 people. Additionally, McKinstry will include MSU students in learning opportunities throughout the project, said Karen Hedglin, McKinstry program manager.

McKinstry is a Seattle-based energy services contractor with offices in Bozeman and Missoula and a full-time Montana staff of 20 focused on increasing energy efficiency in buildings and renewable energy generation projects.

Once all phases of the five-year project are complete, McKinstry estimates MSU will save annually: 

  • 60,000 therms of natural gas (1 therm is equal to 100 cubic feet of natural gas)
  • 9,600 kilopounds of steam
  • 1,990,00 kilowatt hours
  • 3,600 killowatts of demand
  • 23,400,000 gallons of water

Those savings are equivalent to one of the following:

  • 1,600 – Number of average size vehicles removed from roads
  • 32,400,000 – Number of miles not driven per year
  • 239,000 – Number of 75-watt light bulbs not energized
  • 836 – Number of average size houses removed from the power grid
  • 2,300 – Acres of trees planted
  • 8,900,000 – Pounds of coal not burned per year
  • 27,900,000 – Number of toilet flushes

Tim Tolman, McKinstry Business Development Manager,, 406-544-8530; Tracy Ellig, MSU Communications, 406-994-5607,


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