Campus Sustainability

Winona State University Begins $12.3M Sustainability Project

Winona State University in Winona, Minn., announced this week that it is partnering with construction and energy services firm McKinstry for a $12.3-million sustainability and solar energy project. According to a news release, the project is the largest energy performance contract project in the state’s university system. It is expected to guarantee annual utility and operational cost savings of about $685,000, a reduction of about 23.8% and a total savings of about $26 million over the next 25 years.

The project involves the installation of six rooftop solar photovoltaic arrays on six campus buildings—Haake Hall, Helble Hall, the Integrated Wellness Complex, Kirkland Hall, McCown Gym, and Wabasha Recreation Center—as well as four solar carports in the parking lot of the integrated Wellness Complex. A press release states that the 1.4 MW project will generate about 1.7 MWh of renewable energy per year. The on-site solar arrays are set to provide about 10% of the university’s annual electricity consumption and reduce carbon-dioxide emissions by 9,670,000 pounds.

“At McKinstry, we’re committed to keeping students comfortable while also getting the most for every precious education dollar,” said Scott Maynard, Vice President, Energy & Technical Services – Midwest, at McKinstry. “With this project, we’re proud to help WSU become Minnesota State’s most energy-efficient university and home to the largest solar energy system at any of its campuses across the state.”

For the university, the project is just one part of a larger sustainability and solar initiative. The Leading Energy Savings and Sustainability (LESS) Initiative also includes steps like lighting upgrades across campus, upgrades to backup generators, installing destrat fans, improving water conservation equipment, and more. The project is projected to replace about 21,000 light fixtures—as well as every shower head, urinal, toilet and faucet aerator on campus. The university is expected to reduce energy consumption by almost 5 million kWh per year, natural gas consumption by more than 225,000 BTUs per year and water consumption by almost 10 million gallons per year.

“We’re excited to partner with McKinstry on this sustainability and solar energy project to reduce WSU’s environmental impact while dramatically improving campus energy and water efficiency,” said Nathan Engstrom, Campus Sustainability and Planning Director and LESS Project Manager at WSU. “This initiative will remove $7.5 million of deferred maintenance from the university’s backlog, allowing us to reduce maintenance expenditures, modernize and improve facilities, increase comfort and aesthetics, and—most importantly—improve the educational experience for our students, faculty and staff.”

The project has an estimated completion date of August 2022.

About the Author

Matt Jones is senior editor of Spaces4Learning. He can be reached at [email protected].