University of Michigan’s Planet Blue Program

One of our Big Ten peer institutions, the University of Michigan, has developed an interesting energy savings initiative on its campus.  The program, called Planet Blue, brings together facility managers, plant operations personnel, and building occupants to make individual buildings more energy efficient.  Collectively, Planet Blue Teams at the University of Michigan have made some remarkable achievements in regards to energy efficiency:  67 participating buildings; 5,291 Planet Blue Citizens; $5, 177,000 in total savings! A possible direction for the Green Teams Program here at IU?  At the very least, it is indicative of the benefits that can arise through collaborative efforts between building occupants and facility/building managers.

4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Elizabeth Venstra on March 4, 2011 at 10:13 am

    So how does this compare to the situation at IU? Are facility/building managers involved in any green teams or IUOS programs? For those units that have participated in the Energy Challenge or other efficiency efforts, have facility managers been involved, or have you just kind of done it alone?


  2. Posted by Marni Karaffa on March 30, 2011 at 9:00 am

    Our building manager (Geological Survey)is highly involved in our Green Team efforts. He had taken great strides to get our lighting and heat/cooling issues taken care of in a very timely manner. He also manages our IT and our vehicle fleet – promoting telecommunications and carpooling!


  3. Posted by Elizabeth Venstra on March 30, 2011 at 10:42 am

    Hm, I wonder how common that attitude is among building managers–and whether there’s anything we could do to spread it?


  4. Great question, Elizabeth. Over the life of the Energy Challenge, we’ve worked to make connections with staff working in each of the buildings. Some buildings have an official “building manager,” someone typically hired by the department, who keeps watch over the building, ensuring maintenance is done, etc. Some of these managers are charged with multiple buildings. We are in contact with most official building managers for buildings in the competition.

    In other buildings, there is no official building manager, and another individual, perhaps the head of the mail room or another building service, has unofficially assumed this role. And in other buildings, it can be hard to pinpoint any individual serving it is not mandatory for departments to hire managers for their building.

    In addition to building managers, building services staff who are employed by the Physical Plant, do the custodial work and have also completed some of the recent lighting and temperature unit upgrades at Kelley and Geology. This group did an incredible job, but we’d like to ensure their work goes recognized.

    This is where Planet Blue comes in. At the University of Michigan, they have a full-scale facilities upgrade program which they integrate with a green teams concept to capitalize on what is a great educational opportunity. In the beginning, we’d like to see how this team building process would work with upgrades and retrofitting that may be scheduled in the future. The buildings chosen for retrofitting through the Qualified Energy Savings Project might also be great fits. We’ll keep you posted as the idea develops!



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