Environmental Education Leader in Arizona Tackles Building Performance Optimization with McKinstry Collaboration

Surrounded by national forests and situated at the base of the San Francisco Peaks, Northern Arizona University (NAU) is a nationally known hub for environmental research and sustainability initiatives. As one of the nation’s first universities to add environmental studies to its curriculum in the 1970s, NAU has been an exemplar for sustainability-minded learning environments for decades. Home to several LEED-certified buildings, NAU and its Office of Sustainability focus on implementing campus-wide programs including student bike rental, reusable containers, composting and a student fee system called the Green Fund. The Green Fund allows the university to financially support programming, events and projects that reduce the campus’s environmental footprint and galvanize a culture and legacy of sustainability. In 2021, the university updated its Climate Action Plan to include a roadmap to carbon neutrality and campus-wide greenhouse gas emissions data. On Earth Day 2022, NAU President Jose Luis Cruz Rivera declared a climate emergency on campus and committed the university to achieving carbon neutrality by 2030.

In an effort to better understand campus building conditions, NAU partnered with McKinstry to conduct a facility condition assessment (FCA) in 2020. The initial FCA included two integral buildings for student engagement, the Cline Library and the Gammage Administrative Building. Through the FCA and using McKinstry’s proprietary data dashboard, Reveal™, as a guide, NAU was able to collect and better manage the deferred maintenance and overall capital planning processes. The success of the inaugural FCA project allowed NAU to expand FCAs to the entire campus in a five-phase project that will increase mechanical and facility longevity. NAU also opted to incorporate elements of the transition to sustainable operations (TSO) offering into the FCA process including asset tagging and asset data upload into its computer maintenance management system, TMA.

In addition to the FCA projects, McKinstry enhanced NAU’s effort to improve building operations, emissions and performance with the implementation of new and existing building commissioning (EBCx) and master systems integration (MSI) offerings. EBCx served as a successful proof-of-concept for NAU, allowing them to institute a routine EBCX program with two buildings that is expected to offset annual energy costs by over $100,000.  The MSI program is a technology- and vendor-agnostic service that allows NAU teams to easily navigate the complex software and mechanical systems across campus through building automations and user-friendly dashboards. Leveraging COVID-specific relief funding, NAU is utilizing McKinstry’s MSI program to design a conversion from aging pneumatic systems to higher-functioning digital control systems. The design is intended to serve as the new standard on campus and be implemented as the campus continues to grow.

McKinstry celebrates NAU’s initiative to improve the energy efficiency across campus and its commitment to carbon neutrality with urgency reflected in our own Action for Impact and Zero+ efforts. As a proud collaborator on this project, McKinstry is honored to assist in the engineering and maintenance of high-performing learning environments that uphold NAU’s legacy of sustainability and bolster the next generation of environmental advocates.

“The McKinstry team has been a valued partner in many avenues of NAU’s growth. We have created visions of how to move forward with very difficult tasks and achieved each goal with timeliness and professionalism. They are a major partner for NAU’s understanding of current conditions of facilities across all our assets as well as pioneering the future of our Building Automation and commissioning efforts across campus. I thank the McKinstry team for their efforts, continued teamwork and professionalism.”

Josh Spear, Manager, Capital Planning, Design & Construction, Northern Arizona University


Flagstaff, AZ


Higher Education

Services Provided

Facility Condition Assessment (FCA)
Master Systems Integration (MSI)
Existing Building Commissioning (EBCx)
Transition to Sustainable Operations (TSO)

Square Footage

7,051,851 SF