Energy Conservation Measures

As U-M pursues carbon neutrality, it has increased its investment in energy conservation measures (ECMs). Wondering what an ECM is? We’re here to help! Our history with ECMs dates back to the first U-M energy engineer role established in 1990.

What are ECMs?

An energy conservation measure (ECM) reduces the energy consumption of a particular piece of equipment or a certain aspect of essential building services to reduce overall building energy use.

Expanding ECMs

To support ECM projects across all U-M campuses and auxiliary units (Ann Arbor, Dearborn, Flint, Athletics, Michigan Medicine, and Student Life), U-M established a revolving energy fund (REF). The REF has $25 million in seed funding to be dispersed over the next five years.

Implementing ECMs on a broader scale than what OCS has historically led in Ann Arbor general fund buildings will be a significant boost toward carbon neutrality. We welcome the addition of more players to this arena!

Questions? Email  energyconservation@umich.edu.
  Energy Management and building staff work collaboratively to improve energy efficiency through projects such as LED lighting.
Common Types of ECMs

ECMs planned and implemented by university units will vary, but to give you a sense of what an ECM is, here are examples from our past work.

LED upgrades

These projects entail upgrading existing lighting sources with more energy efficient LEDs. Existing lamp types vary: fluorescent, metal halide, incandescent, etc. Since 2011, $3.5 million has been invested in more than 60 projects. Here are a few examples:

Ross School of Business linear fluorescent lamps to LED

  • $198,000 cost
  • $32,000 estimated annual savings
  • 6.1 year simple payback
  • 165 metric tons of carbon dioxide avoided annually


Medical Sciences Research Building 3 linear fluorescent lamps to LED

  • $110,000 cost
  • $26,000 estimated annual savings
  • 4.2 year simple payback
  • 123 metric tons of carbon dioxide avoided annually
Occupancy sensor installation

Occupancy sensors are used to control lighting and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) in eligible spaces. When unoccupied, lights can be turned off and HVAC reduced. Since 2011, $700,000 has been invested in more than 12 projects. Here are a few examples:

GG Brown Laboratory occupancy and photocell sensor project

  • $47,000 cost
  • $18,000 estimated annual savings
  • 2.6 year simple payback
  • 171 metric tons of carbon dioxide avoided annually


School of Public Health 1 occupancy sensor project

  • $274,000 cost
  • $56,000 estimated annual savings
  • 4.9 year simple payback
  • 367 metric tons of carbon dioxide avoided annually
HVAC improvements

Upgrades to existing HVAC systems can provide heating, ventilation, and air conditioning more efficiently.

Ross School of Business Room 2330 HVAC improvements

  • $23,000 cost
  • $56,000 estimated annual savings
  • 0.4 year simple payback
  • 170 metric tons of carbon dioxide avoided annually
Photos of a wall-mounted AC unit in an audiovisual room and the heat exchanger it is connected to outside. The system cools an individual room, enabling large air handlers that serve the building to be turned off when the building is unoccupied at night.