Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Master's Report

Degree Name

Master of Science in Environmental and Energy Policy (MS)

Administrative Home Department

Department of Social Sciences

Advisor 1

Richelle Winkler

Committee Member 1

Ana Dyreson

Committee Member 2

Chelsea Schelly


Athletics departments are showcases for universities, serving as a public face and recruitment outlet that communicates university identity to the world. This applied research project examines the state of electrical energy infrastructure at Michigan Technological University with special attention to the Athletic Department and reports on the process for energy decisions in both settings. I take a qualitative research approach analyzing University documents and conducting interviews with informants in Athletics Administration, Facilities, and MTU’s Office of Sustainability and Resilience. Four major barriers to efficiency emerged: (1) lack of University-wide climate action goals, (2) staffing issues due to a large number of unfilled positions, (3) lack of financial incentives to change current electricity consumption practices, and (4) lack of investment in efficiency and maintenance. I recommend that the President’s Council adopt clear targets for climate action, work to reduce critical staffing shortages, and invest in efficiency and maintenance by streamlining the funding process, incentivizing units to reduce their energy waste, and complete identified “low-hanging fruit” projects as soon as possible. These strategies for improving energy efficiency have positive implications, including return on investment, reduced carbon footprint, and improvement to the safety, resiliency, and functionality of the campus. These near-immediate benefits lead to improved branding, visibility, and optics, elements that are crucial for student recruitment and stakeholder engagement.