U-M receives Sustainable Energy program of the year award from DTE Energy



University of Michigan\’s Planet Blue Operations Team program has been named the Sustainable Energy Program of the Year by DTE Energy for its efforts to conserve energy and engage the campus community.

The award was given in conjunction with the Energy Conference and Exhibition 2011 hosted by DTE and the Engineering Society of Detroit. U-M received its award in the commercial category, and its entry was judged based on the Ann Arbor campus being actively engaged in the program, participation by U-M leadership, the goals set under the Planet Blue Operations Team program and tracking of results.

\”This is great recognition for the efforts of the people working on the Planet Blue Operations Team program and the U-M campus at-large,\” said Richard Robben, executive director of Plant Operations at U-M. \”The vision of this program was that we would reduce energy consumption and the corresponding costs, but that we would engage the people to foster a culture where everyone is focused on doing the right thing in the buildings where they teach, learn and work. This award shows we\’re delivering on that goal.\”

The purpose of the award program is to recognize organizations that have put energy conservation programs in place that focus on energy reduction over an extended period of time, according to Gerald Polk, manager of Energy Partnership Energy Optimization for Commercial and Industrial Programs at DTE.

\”A lot of organizations are doing programs on a one-time basis, but we look to recognize the organizations that are really progressive with their energy savings programs over time,\” Polk said. \”We base the awards on program history and advances in the progress of the program. And behavior changes also are a big component of what we look for.\”

The Planet Blue Operations Team program has been in place at U-M since 2008, and has resulted in a 14 percent reduction in energy consumption and nearly $5.2 million in utility cost avoidance for the 67 buildings where data has been reported through December 31, 2010. A total of 95 general fund buildings on the Ann Arbor campus have gone through the program through FY 2011, and 120 will be completed by FY 2012. In addition to mechanical changes made to the buildings to optimize their operation and thereby save energy, Planet Blue Operations Team engage building occupants on things they can do such as turning off lights in rooms when not in use or powering down computers.

This is the third year energy conservation awards have been given at this conference. Previous winners include The Kroger Company, General Motors, Barton Hills Country Club, Detroit Diesel Corp., and American Axle. A total of eight entries were submitted in the category where U-M won its award.