In an effort to dramatically cut energy use at one of the country’s premier academic and research institutions, Massachusetts-based utility NSTAR and MIT are teaming up to launch the most aggressive efficiency project in NSTAR history. Dubbed “MIT Efficiency Forward,” the program has a goal of cutting electricity use by 15 percent over three years through innovative programs; substantial student, faculty and staff engagement; and the piloting of new technologies and approaches at MIT.

The long-term partnership is the first of its kind for both MIT and the utility and establishes a new approach for sustainable solutions. In the three-year period, the target energy savings is 34 million kilowatt-hours. According to NSTAR, that is equivalent to the amount of electricity used by more than 4,500 Massachusetts homes in a given year.

“What we are launching with MIT is a bold new plan for confronting climate change and a proposal to officially establish energy efficiency as the ‘first fuel’ in Massachusetts,” said Tom May, NSTAR chairman, president and CEO. “Aggressive goals require aggressive action, and MIT is demonstrating its leadership in campus sustainability once again. They are taking advantage of every energy-saving tool NSTAR has available, and I’m confident the results will be a model and an inspiration for all other customers to follow.”

Energy efficiency is one of several key strategies being implemented at MIT to demonstrate leading approaches for reducing energy use. MIT has already begun to use combined heat and power generation and sustainable design and construction, among other strategies.
NSTAR predicts that, over the three years, MIT Efficiency Forward will provide MIT with savings over the lifetime of the projects completed in excess of $50 million through a combination of sustainable new construction, major renovations, and both electric and gas incentive programs. The company will work with MIT to improve and upgrade heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems; electrical and lab systems; and lighting fixture and controls, in addition to other steps.

MIT Efficiency Forward will also have substantial student engagement facilitated by the program’s student advisory group. Building on work coordinated by the MIT Energy Initiative’s Campus Energy Task Force using MIT’s campus as a living laboratory, MIT Efficiency Forward will offer students and faculty members rich research, educational and learning opportunities.

In particular, through close collaboration with the MIT Energy Initiative Campus Energy Education Task Force, unique project-based coursework for freshman, sophomore and advanced student teams will be developed to help to promote the goals of MIT Efficiency Forward. An aggressive, sustained campaign to encourage the MIT community to reduce energy consumption will be a key component of the program, and students will help develop approaches to measure, monitor and verify those savings.