SPARTA: Student Planning of Advanced Retrofit Technology Applications

The Mission:

  1. Set prospects for reducing the energy consumption in MSU campus buildings.
  2. Provide data driven recommendations of effective methods to reduce energy consumption in those buildings.
  3. Set in place the framework for transferring remaining energy loads to renewable sources at targeted facilities via planning roadmaps.
  4. Educate students in a multidisciplinary and systems based work environment.

The SPARTA Group was developed for the purpose of involving MSU students in just that…a solution based environment centered around solving a real set of complex problems that MSU faces. With education and research at the very heart of the organizational mission, the student participants use their uniques skill sets to find solutions that are specific to the needs of their selected Project Areas. Guided by the Framework of the MSU Energy Transition Plan, the SPARTA Group has sought out to determine the most cost-effective retrofit clean-tech applications for targeted buildings and selected sites around the MSU campus. The group’s continued participation in Applied Energy Transition Research is a testament to Michigan State’s commitment to supporting well-grounded, student-centered, sustainability initiatives.

More information is available on current project progress in the project areas section, and the group’s background is covered in the previous projects section as well as in this info sheet: SPARTA_Background

Project Areas Map:


Goals and our Sustainable University:

SPARTA and the many projects it oversees have and continue to remain rooted in the MSU Sustainability tradition. Those new project areas like the Supply-Side Peak Load Shaving Study, Solar PV Rooftop Experiment and Solar PV Market and Supply Chain Study all seek to advance our understanding of optimal configurations for the advancement and curation of solar and other renewable and storage applications on campus. Topics focused on the aspects of Building Efficiency like that of the continuation of LED Retrofit Studies or the introduction of LEED Certification to existing buildings on campus will allow SPARTA to continue focusing on the University’s energy efficiency goals. Supporting these initiatives are the labors of Students, Faculty and Staff, all working collaboratively across multiple disciplines to create novel solutions, all the while remaining highly committed to the sustainability goals of the university:

  • Improve the Physical Environment: SPARTA will continue to aid the University in energy planning decisions by conducting innovative and proactive studies around the topics of advanced retrofit technologies. These efforts will provide the MSU IPF with ideal retrofit designs and financial feasibility studies across all topics, but by way of novel understandings of energy system solutions, yet uncultivated.
  • Put MSU at the forefront of Sustainability Education: Students are engaged in a highly proactive solution-based and hands-on work environment, allowing them to gain unmatched energy systems analysis and planning skills. Underpinned by the cross-disciplinary nature of the group, students have the chance to work with real issues pertaining to MSU’s Energy Transition, all while building a rapport with campus leaders at the MSU IPF, the Office of Campus Sustainability, the College of Engineering, the College of Economics, the MSU Institute for Public Utilities (MSU IPU) and various Commercial Entities. The project has allowed students leaving the group to land a variety of career paths in the Energy Industry, ranging from Consulting work with industry leaders, to HVAC Engineering and Design internships with System’s Integration Companies.
  • Facilitate Sustainable Energy Research: By bringing together leading renewable energy researchers, feasibility studies, and a collaborative Stakeholder Network, SPARTA provides the university with a unique opportunity to broaden its Living/Learning Laboratory goals set forth by the competencies of the Bolder by Design initiative. By leveraging the expansion of the SPARTA Stakeholder Network the group aims to intrinsically build out these efforts through the addition of expert collaboration where it has not yet existed.

Deployment Pipeline:

It is the aim of every new technology researched and strategy developed by SPARTA to make it through the Deployment Pipeline. This is typically a lengthy process, consisting of a mix of brainstorming, lab testing, physical building retrofits and a great deal of literature research. The ideal technology makes it through the gauntlet to the final stage of Retrofit Expansion Study, where targeted campus areas are identified using key target metrics delivered by other stages of the pipeline. This effective and rigorous methodology helps SPARTA to ensure that the University has clean technology that not only meets the technical specifications of the respective application but that it garners a significant enough economic benefit to make it highly deployable. See the following for a representation of the Deployment Pipeline: