Western Michigan University Announced as the Innovative Project 2nd Place Winner

The Innovative Project Award is designed to honor projects that break the mold of standard building construction, design, and operations. The projects in question exemplify innovation and astute practices that reflect the goals of U.S. Green Building Council of West Michigan (USGBCWM)’s programs. The Innovative Project winner this year was chosen in a close vote between our Board of Directors and Staff. The USGBCWM was excited to announce Western Michigan University (WMU as the second place winner for their Campus Electric Vehicle (EV) Charger Network.

In May of 2022 Western Michigan University, in partnership with Consumers Energy, unveiled 10 new dual-port electric vehicle chargers on campus capable of powering up 20 vehicles simultaneously. WMU began this sustainable chapter in EV projects back in 2011, when they became the first research institution in the state to install such technology. This project followed the results of a 2021 WMU Senior Design Project, in which the students investigated ways to revitalize the University's original charging network. The students’ work culminated in the submission of technology recommendations and the development of a model for the University’s future use. 

A $50,000 incentive grant from Consumers Energy's PowerMIFleet initiative helped to fund the new electric vehicle technology on campus. The incentive grant program also provided a fleet electrification assessment, one of many things that University leadership and Western's Carbon Neutrality Committee will consider for implementation in its pursuit of carbon neutrality.

The EV chargers are located in various locations across Western's Kalamazoo campuses. They are available for public use and will cost $0.20/kilowatt hour while charging. An additional parking fee of $1.50/hour will be assessed after two hours of charger use and will continue until the vehicle is unplugged and moved. These fees are based on research conducted by the engineering students and students in Western's Haworth College of Business as well as peer-institution review and stakeholder input. "We believe that the pricing plan will balance affordability and accessibility with long-term charger network upkeep and renewal," says Jeff Spoelstra, director of Western's Office for Sustainability and co-chair of the Carbon Neutrality Committee.

"Western Michigan University has long been a leader in promoting sustainability and innovation," said President Edward Montgomery. "This expansion of our electric vehicle charging stations demonstrates our continued commitment in those arenas and our willingness to partner with others who share the same values and vision."

The USGBC-WM Leadership Awards promote outstanding green building initiatives by recognizing projects, organizations, and people who have made extraordinary contributions to achieving healthy, energy-efficient green buildings in the state of Michigan.

“Our built environment should be a conduit to our wellness and vitality. In most cases, an employer's largest operating cost is its people,” said Cheri Holman, Executive Director of USGBCWM. “Investing in those people by providing them with an indoor environment that is safe, comfortable, and inspiring is a key way to attract and retain a flourishing workforce.”

WMU was honored at our 2022 Annual Party & Leadership Awards Ceremony on December 8, 2022. Hosted by the U.S. Green Building Council of West Michigan, the evening event was held in the Ballroom at the LEED-certified CityFlatsHotel located in downtown Grand Rapids. The program included a keynote address by Jeremy Orr, Director of Litigation and Advocacy Partnerships for Earthjustice, an Awards Ceremony, and the introduction of our new Board of Directors nominees.  

To learn more about the event and to read our 2022 Annual Report visit our Annual Party & Leadership Awards Ceremony page.