McKinstry, Winona State University start on comprehensive sustainability, solar project

McKinstry and Winona State University have begun work on a $12.3 million renewable energy and sustainability project. In the Minnesota State University System, this contract will be the largest energy efficiency project, with annual utility and operational cost savings estimated at approximately $685,000. That translates to a reduction of 23.8% in utility costs and an overall savings of $26 million over the project’s lifetime.  

The initiative includes six rooftop solar PV arrays at Haake Hall, Helble Hall, Integrated Wellness Complex, Kirkland Hall, McCown Gym, and Wabasha Recreation Center, as well as four solar carports at the Integrated Wellness Complex. Minnesota State University’s 1.4 MW solar energy system will generate almost 1.7 MWh of renewable energy each year, making it the largest of its kind on campus. As a result of on-site solar PV, WSU will be able to generate nearly 10% of its annual electricity needs, reducing CO2 emissions by 9,670,000 pounds, the equivalent of driving an average passenger car more than 11 million miles.  

“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, for 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.”

The project is part of a broader comprehensive sustainability and solar initiative for Winona State. Additionally, the LESS Initiative, which stands for Leading Energy Savings and Sustainability, includes campus-wide lighting upgrades in buildings and parking lots, upgrades to the Central Plant’s backup generator, installation of destrat fans, and enhanced water conservation equipment (including irrigation and swimming pool controls). In total, this project will replace 21,000 light fixtures, as well as every toilet, shower head, urinal, and faucet aerator on campus, leading to a reduction of nearly 5 million kWh of electricity consumption per year, over 225,000 less BTUs of natural gas each year, and almost 10 million gallons of water saved 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, WSU’s Campus Sustainability and Planning Director and LESS Project Manager. “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.”

Work on the project is expected to be completed by August 2022.

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