Overall Rating Expired
Overall Score Expired
Liaison Amy Butler
Submission Date Feb. 11, 2016
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

Michigan State University
IN-1: Innovation 1

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete Expired Sean Barton
Former Project Coordinator
IPF Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Title or keywords related to the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:
Spartan Treasure Hunt

A brief description of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome :

The Spartan Treasure Hunt is a five to six hour event in which staff members from MSU Infrastructure Planning and Facilities (IPF) departments, subject matter experts and building occupants break up into teams, tour a campus building and identify opportunities to increase energy efficiency and other system improvements within the building. Through observation, measurement and inquiry, the teams produce a list of resource-saving opportunities.

This innovative process, derived from General Electric (GE) and lean manufacturing, has been adapted to suit the needs of Michigan State University as an institute of higher education. The premise is to actually “go and see” if buildings and their respective systems are functioning and being utilized in the most efficient way. Buildings are dynamic entities: repairs are made to existing systems, new systems are installed, and space use may change dramatically from time of construction up to the current date.

To start, MSU partnered with GE to do a treasure hunt in our Engineering Building. After learning how GE uses a treasure hunt to identify deficiencies within a plant, MSU took an innovative approach and applied the model to fit in with existing building commissioning and function within the many diverse buildings on campus. To date, Michigan State University has conducted Spartan Treasure Hunts in 22 campus buildings, and with the help of 233 different building occupants identified over 3,300 opportunities for resource savings.

By including building occupants on the treasure hunt, a symbiotic relationship is formed between them and the facilities staff that maintains the building. Occupants get to see “behind the scenes” and learn how their building works, and may learn strategies to utilize building systems more efficiently. Additionally, they receive one-on-one time with the staff who maintain their area and subject matter experts to help solve chronic issues. The facilities staff also benefits from occupant involvement. By having a building representative on a treasure hunt team, IPF staff members receive historical background of the building that may or may not be recorded in the facilities database. Building representatives also provide context of how the space is used, which shapes and forms the recommendations to address the identified opportunity. How a space is used has major implications on building systems, energy use and opportunities to save energy.

Opportunities that are identified are then validated by the IPF commissioning team to calculate energy savings, feasibility and ROI. These validated findings are then sorted into different funding streams, and are implemented in a strategic order.


A brief description of any positive measurable outcomes associated with the innovation (if not reported above):

On the occupant side, we can measure engagement by the number of participants on teams during the hunt, individual building occupant follow-up survey responses , as well as the success of individual action plans within a building. Additionally, this event serves as a great mechanism to foster relationship building between facilities staff and the occupants of the building. The occupants also learn how their building functions and learns about building issues, satisfying the “why”.


A letter of affirmation from an individual with relevant expertise:
Which of the following STARS subcategories does the innovation most closely relate to? (Select all that apply up to a maximum of 5):
Yes or No
Curriculum ---
Research ---
Campus Engagement Yes
Public Engagement ---
Air & Climate ---
Buildings Yes
Dining Services ---
Energy Yes
Grounds ---
Purchasing ---
Transportation ---
Waste Yes
Water Yes
Coordination, Planning & Governance ---
Diversity & Affordability ---
Health, Wellbeing & Work ---
Investment ---

Other topic(s) that the innovation relates to that are not listed above:
---

The website URL where information about the innovation is available :

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