Menu Menu

Green Buildings and Sustainable Design

The Fall 2013 semester saw the opening of Oakland University's first green building project, the geothermal / solar thermal Human Health Science Building.  The HHB is Oakland's first geothermal heat pump installation, and it will include an innovative desiccant cooling system powered by one of the largest solar thermal energy system in the U.S.  The project will be using a newer form of technology, Variable Refrigerant Flow heat pumps.  These heat pumps use variable speed compressors and serve multiple refrigerant zones per unit.  OU was awarded a $2.75M U.S. Department of Energy grant to help fund this innovative green building concept.  For videos describing the project's many sustainable features, click here.

Click here for the US DOE grant information.           Overview PRESENTATION to ASHRAE in June 2013

Click here for a CONSTRUCTION video of the bore hole drilling.     Click here for information on sustainable architecture and design.

OU's Invests in Emerging Lighting Technologies       
In early 2011, Oakland University and Detroit Edison's Community Lighting group launched a pilot program to install and evaluate multiple LED, induction, and other outdoor lighting technologies across campus.  Together, DTE and OU have invested over $1/2M with multiple parking and roadway fixtures to convert about 1/3 of campus from the existing "high pressure sodium" lamps to new energy efficient and low maintenance technologies.  Click here for a project map and information.

University Energy Usage & Cost

Take a look at the historical usage and cost of the west campus utilities over the past decade. About $380 is spent each year per Full Year Equivalent Student (FY2010 data). This equates about 4% of a full time student's tuition. (based on 15 credit hours for two semesters)  more info...

University Energy Purchasing
Click here to learn more on how Oakland University spends its $6 million dollars each year to heat, cool, and power our fine institution.

OU Photovoltaic - Solar Electric Roof
OU was recently installed a 10kW photovoltaic demonstration project on the roof of the student apartment Community Building. The produced electricity from 580 Uni-Solar PV shingles and is tied directly to the University electrical grid..

Click here for more information...

Environmental Concerns - (MI ranks 2nd in Mercury Contaminated Hot Spots (click here )
OU consumes 35 million kilowatt-hours of electricity each year. The result is that we contribute 200 pounds of high level nuclear waste per year which is perpetually stored at the Fermi II power station, and contribute 41 tons of nitrogen oxides , 155 tons of sulfur dioxide, and 1.2 pounds of toxic mercury, and 37,000 tons of non-toxic, CO2 into the local environment each year.  Our heating plant burns natural gas releasing an additional 17,000 tons of CO2 for a total CO2 contribution of 54,000 tons per year.

Additional carbon contribution can be attributed to commuter travel, faculty/staff air travel, staff vehicles, solid waste, and campus wastewater.  The best way to reduce this burden is to use your power wisely and sparingly. You can make a difference, both at home, on campus, and in your own transportation.

Campus Electric Substation
A new electric substation was put into service at the end of May 2003. The old 13.2 kilovolt electrical service into North Foundation Hall was transferred to the more reliable new substation, doubling the capacity of the OU power supply. This will allow for the next 15 to 20 years of growth and expansion.

For more information on our electrical supply infrastructure, click here.

Conservation Projects
In 1998, the University entered into an utility cost saving "performance contract". Over $8M of facilities upgrades were undertaken to reduce our campus energy consumption and replace some aging infrastructure. A second phase performance contract of $11M was implemented in 2003.  Many smaller energy projects are done on a continuing basis.  Recent projects include a lower playfield groundwater irrigation well to remove the soccer, softball, baseball, and practice fields from the city water supply for less than a three year payback on this investment.  Also, a building recommissioning program will update and optimize building HVAC and lighting systems for improved indoor air quality, comfort, and energy savings.  This program has been very successful at Pawley Hall and the Recreation & Athletics Center in 2008 and 2009.  O'Dowd Hall and then the Science and Engineering Building are next in-line for recommissioning work.

Heating & Cooling Policy
Oakland University heating and cooling policy. Non-OU personal electric heaters are not allowed on campus. They cover up HVAC issues, create fire hazards, and consume SIGNIFICANT amounts of electricity.

However, an innovative, controlled heater will be provided in cases where your HVAC cannot provide the proper heating. Please read the OU Energy Newsletter, Issue 1. Call the work control center at 2381 to report a problem or request a heater or click here for an on-line request. 

West Campus HVAC Floor Plans
Floor plans are available online, but with password protection, please call Engineering at ext. 4433 for any floor plans or building information.


Questions, Ideas, Comments?
Please contact the Energy Manager - Rafi Bayrakdarian at
phone 248.370.4990 fax 248.370.4442

(this website was created and is maintained by Jim Leidel)

(The above is a public service link to the US EPA, not a paid advertisement)