Honeywell and Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo joined forces on Oct. 23 to celebrate Campus Sustainability Day. The school not only used the day to showcase its efforts in reducing energy use and its carbon footprint, but the organizations also announced the launch of a two-year research project. The project will be led by WMU’s Office of Sustainability to determine best practices for engaging students, faculty, and staff in trimming energy consumption in buildings.

The research project, supported by Honeywell and managed by WMU doctoral student Kate Binder, will explore whether dashboards and other tools that share information on energy use lead to lasting and quantifiable change among occupants.

Campus Sustainability Day also provided an opportunity to highlight energy-efficiency improvements Honeywell is currently making in more than 50 WMU facilities. The upgrades are expected to trim annual energy consumption by 14,800 MMBtu and carbon emissions by 4.4 million pounds — equivalent to removing almost 390 vehicles from the road. The school will also save nearly $250,000 in projected energy and operating costs each year, savings guaranteed by Honeywell under an energy savings performance contract.

“Our commitment to sustainability has always revolved around what we can accomplish technically as well as what we can do by harnessing the power of a community made up of thoughtful individuals,” said WMU President John M. Dunn. “The new research Honeywell is supporting will allow us to find the best way to engage members of the University community and encourage them to take full advantage of the technology so that we can further reduce our environmental footprint.”

WMU has been working to address its energy consumption for decades. And in 2011, the university enlisted Honeywell to perform a campus-wide audit to identify changes that could further boost efficiency. The audit uncovered opportunities to enhance lighting, heating and cooling, and automation controls in buildings, and WMU tapped Honeywell to implement the improvements.

“Western Michigan University has long stood as one of the leading higher-education institutions in promoting sustainable practices, and has made impressive inroads in reducing its overall energy consumption by using technology and engaging its campus community,” said Paul Orzeske, president of Honeywell Building Solutions. “We are proud to join WMU in celebrating this year’s Campus Sustainability Day.”