Colorado School of Mines Energy Efficiency Upgrades in Golden, Colorado

Colorado School of Mines (Mines) is a public research university focused on science and engineering. Students and faculty together address the great challenges society faces today—particularly those related to the Earth, energy and the environment.

Saving Money through Energy Efficiency

To date, McKinstry has successfully completed two phases of an energy savings performance contract (ESPC) with Mines. We performed a complete lighting and water audit and identified many facility improvement measures (FIMs) encompassing upgrades that save steam, electricity and water usage as well as savings on maintenance costs.

After a final review of McKinstry’s audit results and recommendations for capital investment, the Mines team worked with McKinstry’s design team to finalize design and cost estimates and bring forward a multi-phase scope of work that includes the following:

  • Campus Irrigation Controls Retrofit and Domestic Water Conservation: Replacement of all existing irrigation controllers with a central irrigation system that automatically adjusts watering times due to environmental conditions. Implementation of these measures reduced overall water usage by nearly 20%.
  • HVAC Exhaust Energy Recovery: These retrofits install energy recovery coils on lab air handlers to capture energy that is wasted when lab exhaust air exits the building.
  • Partial Campus Lighting Retrofit: Replacement of remaining obsolete and inefficient T-12 technology lamps.
  • Chiller Replacement: Design and construction of a replacement chilled water plant in the basement of the Green Center with three 538T chillers (plus space for one 425T future chiller), chilled water loop infrastructure and underground piping and demolishing the existing building chillers and cooling towers at Hill Hall. Benefits include reduced maintenance cost, reduced overall number of chillers required and improved efficiency and reliability.

Fostering a Campus-Wide Cultural Shift

McKinstry implemented our behavior engagement program, powerED with over 530 Mines students and faculty. Much of this effort was focused on demonstrating to students and staff how small changes such as turning off lights, unplugging unnecessary electronics and conserving energy can make a difference in their daily lives.

Facilities across Mines that were actively engaged in powerED achieved an annual program cost avoidance of over $1,500,000 from electricity, natural gas and water (compared to a previous baseline year) – this is roughly 9% of reduced energy use.


Golden, CO



Services Provided:

Energy Services

Facility Condition Assessment (FCA)

Active Energy Management (AEM)



Energy Savings Performance Contract (ESPC)

“I feel the PowerED team has provided positive results in our building operations. They have identified several cost-saving repairs and adjustments. I was especially impressed with the Shut the Sash campaign. I was skeptical at inception but was pleasantly surprised by its impact on students and our energy consumption.”

– Mike Willey, Building Operations Manager, Colorado School of Mines