Meet Mike Larson
Mike Larson is the Director of Utilities Production at U of I Facilities & Services (F&S) and Chair of the Energy Generation, Purchasing, and Distribution SWATeam.
For 15 years he has been keeping the lights on at the University as part of F&S’ Utilities Distribution and Production units. Today, Larson is responsible for the day-to-day operations of Abbott Power Plant and the Central Chilled Water system on campus.
Larson plays a large role in validating the campus energy generation and production information. To him, the understanding of current campus resources and processes is crucial when making future decisions regarding sustainability.
“Resources are limited, and it is imperative that we make fully informed decisions to insure that we are utilizing the resources that we have been provided to the best of our ability,” he said. “The campus requires safe, sustainable, reliable and cost-effective utilities. A lot goes into meeting those requirements 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and it is important that everyone understand and recognize those requirements as we discuss and develop potential solutions for the future.”
He proudly highlights sustainable energy generation systems on campus like a 20-acre solar farm, a multifuel co-generation plant, and a central chilled water system with thermal storage. He hopes his team will be able to provide the University with information and recommendations on how best to meet their energy specific goals — ultimately creating fine-tuned, sustainable solutions.
“From my perspective, one of the primary goals is to make sure that all parties on campus understand the facts related to energy generation on campus,” he said.
While he anticipates the need for additional research and development for campus energy generation, purchasing, and distribution, he believes the path to achieving a sustainable campus lies within the efforts of individuals working together.
“Our biggest strength comes from the students, faculty and staff,” he said. “We have a lot of very intelligent people on campus who are good at thinking outside of the box and outlining potential solutions to some very difficult problems.The ultimate way to conserve resources is to not use them. Conservation and efficiency is something that everyone can do every minute of every day, and it is the No. 1 priority to creating a sustainable campus.”