Tag Archive for sustainability

Allbritton Center Honored with Gold Certification for Sustainable Practices

The Allbritton Center, formerly the Davenport Campus Center, was a renovation project completed in August 2009. Wesleyan considered sustainable measures throughout the redesign and construction, earning a Gold Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. (Photo by Olivia Bartlett Drake)

The Allbritton Center, formerly the Davenport Campus Center, was a renovation project completed in August 2009. Wesleyan considered sustainable measures throughout the redesign and construction, earning a Gold Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. (Photo by Olivia Bartlett Drake)

Wesleyan has reached the gold standard in sustainable structures.

On March 15, the U.S. Green Building Council awarded Wesleyan’s newly-renovated Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life building a Gold Certification based on the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards.

LEED is an internationally-recognized green building certification system that verifies that a building or community was designed and built using strategies aimed at improving performance across all the metrics that matter most: energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts.

“The Gold Certification demonstrates Wesleyan’s commitment to sustainable design, operation and maintenance of its buildings,” says Alan Rubacha, construction services consultant for the center. “From the salvage and reuse of existing materials, to the design and specification of new materials and even into the site design, LEED was consulted for every decision.”

The Allbritton Center, formerly the Davenport Campus Center, was a nine-month renovation project completed in August 2009.

LEED awards points based

Wesleyan Participates in Earth Day Commuter Challenge

Between now and Earth Day in April, Wesleyan employees who seek greener ways to commute to campus will have the opportunity to earn rewards through the Earth Day Commuter Challenge 2010: “Race to the Finish.” The event encourages all forms of green commuting including carpooling, vanpooling, telecommuting, biking, walking and taking the bus, and is projected to eliminating more than 140,000 vehicle trips state-wide. This level of participation would result in 5,000,000 fewer miles of driving and the elimination of 2,000 tons of emissions.

“Our hope is that the Earth Day Commuter Challenge will encourage employees to get out of their single occupancy cars and use alternate green modes of transportation,” explains Cliff Ashton, director of Physical Plant. “It’s the right thing to do for the environment and hopefully it will save employees money at the same time.”

The event is endorsed by Governor M. Jodi Rell and culminates with a reception at the State Capitol for the employers who have successfully encouraged their employees to participate.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, Americans take 1.1 billion trips a day. Of these trips, 78 percent are single-occupant trips, which clog roadways and account for about 50 percent of urban air pollution.

Several Wesleyan faculty and staff already make green choices in their to-and-from-work

Freshwater Resources Topic of Where On Earth Are We Going Symposium

Patrick Osborne

Patrick Osborne, executive director of the Whitney R. Harris World Ecology Center at the University of Missouri - St. Louis, will speak on climate change during the Where on Earth Are We Going symposium Nov. 7.

During the last 50 years, humans have degraded rivers and lakes through excessive water abstraction, pollution and by over-harvesting aquatic organisms. River flow has been impeded by dams, and floodplains have been converted for agriculture and urban areas.

The human population has doubled to nearly 7 billion and, per capita water availability has declined on all continents. During the past 50 years, global climate change has further impacted water resources.

On Nov. 7, three climate experts will speak on “Global Environmental Change And Freshwater Resources: Hope For The Best Or Change To Prepare For The Worst?” during the annual Where On Earth Are We Going? Symposium. The event is sponsored by the Robert Schumann Lecture Series in the Environmental Studies Program.

At 9 a.m., Patrick L. Osborne, executive director of the Harris World Ecology Center at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, will look at ways climate change and global warming have altered river and lake function and the water resources on which humans rely. He has 30 years experience in tropical ecology research, education and environmental consultancy and was the head of the biology department at the University of Papua New Guinea and deputy director of the Water Research Center at the University of Western Sydney in Australia.

At 10:15 a.m., Frank H. McCormick, program manager of Air, Water and Aquatic Environments at the Rocky Mountain Research Station,

Solar Panels Installed on Office of Admission

The Office of Admission received a solar panel installation in September. According to Peter Staye, associate director of utilities management, the Admissions building uses about 110,000 kWh annually. The panels create electricity at a maximum output of 3 kW and will produce about 3,000 kW hours annually towards that annual usage.

The Office of Admission received a solar panel installation in September. According to Peter Staye, associate director of utilities management, the Admissions building uses about 110,000 kWh annually. The panels create electricity at a maximum output of 3 kW and will produce about 3,000 kW hours annually towards that annual usage.

John Nordeman '99 and Matthew Rude '99, co-owners of renewable energy company Just Energy (JE), own and installed the solar panels. Wesleyan has a contract with JE to purchase all the electricity the system produces for the next 10 years. Just Energy was founded in March 2008 with a vision of reducing energy expenses for commercial customers while also helping the environment. (Photos by Olivia Bartlett Drake)

John Nordeman '99 and Matthew Rudey '99, co-owners of renewable energy company Just Energy (JE), installed the solar panels. Wesleyan has a contract with JE to purchase all the electricity the system produces for the next 10 years. Just Energy was founded in March 2008 with a vision of reducing energy expenses for commercial customers while also helping the environment. (Photos by Olivia Bartlett Drake)

Wesleyan Dining Hosts Eat Local Challenge

Sierra Bintliff '12 feeds livestock at a at a small organic farm in Standish, Maine. Bon Appétit Management Company uses food from the farm.

Sierra Bintliff '12 feeds livestock at a at a small organic farm in Standish, Maine. Bon Appétit Management Company uses food from the farm.

During the summer recess, amateur gardeners Sierra Bintliff ’12 and Nat Lichten ’09 seeded rows, weeded, irrigated, and tended fruits, vegetables and livestock at a small organic farm near St. Joseph’s College in Standish, Maine.

A bulk of the bounty was harvested for St. Joseph’s dining services, managed by Bon Appétit Management Company, the same business that oversees Wesleyan dining.

“I was thrilled at the opportunity to work for a company whose mission statement embodies the ideal combination of my two passions: sustainability and food,” says Bintliff, who works as a Bon Appétit catering employee at Wesleyan. “While working on the farm, I experienced the genuine enthusiasm of the Bon Appétit community for providing quality food from sustainable sources.”

On Tuesday, Sept. 29, Bon Appétit will raise awareness about its commitment to supporting local agriculture by participating in the Eat Local Challenge.

On Tuesday, Sept. 29, Bon Appétit will participate in the Eat Local Challenge.

On Tuesday, Sept. 29, Bon Appétit will participate in the Eat Local Challenge.

Wesleyan and all other Bon Appétit-managed eateries across the country will feature a special lunch prepared completely from local ingredients from within a 150 mile radius of the café, the only exception being salt.

“The meal will take ‘farm to fork’ to the next level,” explains Michael Strumpf, Bon Appétit Resident District Manager of Wesleyan Dining. “Our chefs will create a delicious, seasonal dish that highlights Connecticut’s local bounty. Everything, every single ingredient, must be bought locally. To give you an idea of what this means, if the bread is served during this meal, the flour and yeast must have come from within 150 miles of Wesleyan.”

The Eat Local Challenge

Emergency Response Studio Inspired by Hurricane Katrina Disaster

Nina Felshin, curator of exhibitions at the Center for the Arts, and Camille Parente, financial analyst/gallery coordinator, examine the Emergency Response Studio installed on the Center for the Arts green. The studio was inspired by artist Paul Villinski's visit to New Orleans, La. in August 2006 after Hurricane Katrina.

Nina Felshin, curator of exhibitions at the Center for the Arts, and Camille Parente, financial analyst/gallery coordinator, examine the Emergency Response Studio installed on the Center for the Arts green. The studio was inspired by artist Paul Villinski's visit to New Orleans, La. in August 2006 after Hurricane Katrina.

Though designed as an artist's studio and residence, Emergency Response Studio is an ingenious prototype for self-sufficient, solar-powered mobile housing.

Though designed as an artist's studio and residence, Emergency Response Studio is an ingenious prototype for self-sufficient, solar-powered mobile housing.

Emergency Response Studio is a transformed 30-foot Gulfstream Cavalier trailer, virtually identical to the 50,000 trailers built for FEMA.  Working continuously from April to October 2008, Villinski transformed the trailer's formaldehyde-ridden materials with green technology and building materials, including recycled denim insulation, bamboo cabinetry, compact fluorescent lighting, reclaimed wood, and floor tiles made from linseed oil.

Emergency Response Studio is a transformed 30-foot Gulfstream Cavalier trailer, virtually identical to the 50,000 trailers built for FEMA. Working continuously from April to October 2008, Villinski transformed the trailer's formaldehyde-ridden materials with green technology and building materials, including recycled denim insulation, bamboo cabinetry, compact fluorescent lighting, reclaimed wood, and floor tiles made from linseed oil.

New CoGen System Generating 81 Percent of Electricity

Ray Mason, boiler tender, looks over Wesleyan's new cogeneration unit housed inside Central Power Plant. CoGen went into operation in February and creates electricity, heat and steam for campus buildings.

Ray Mason, boiler tender, looks over Wesleyan’s new cogeneration unit housed inside Central Power Plant. The “CoGen” system went into operation in February and creates electricity, heat and steam for campus buildings.

It’s one mean, green machine and it’s saving Wesleyan up to $5,000 a day in energy costs.

Wesleyan’s new Cogeneration system – or CoGen, – uses natural gas to simultaneously generate electricity, heat and steam for university use. It began operation in February after an 18-month installation process.

“Buying electricity from the grid is expensive and non-efficient,” says Peter Staye, associate director of utilities management. “With CoGen, we are generating 81 percent of our own power. It should pay for itself in five years.”

CoGen operates similar to a vehicle with an extreme super-duty engine. The natural-gas fired, turbo-charged, four-stroke engine runs on 16 cylinders. Each cylinder is 5.8 liters. (A 2009 Ford F-150 has eight cylinders with a 4.6 liter engine.)

Made by General Electric in Austria, the 22,000-pound Jenbacher gas engine runs at 1,500 revolutions per minute. It powers a generator, which ultimately creates 2,398 kilowatts of electricity.

Staye offered a comparison of two recent electric bills side by side. In February 2008, Wesleyan consumed 1,558,687 kilowatt hours. In February 2009, with CoGen in operation, the usage dropped to 359,584 hours. Monthly electric bills have dropped from the $180,000 range to under $50,000.

“By generating our own power, we’re saving Wesleyan up to $5,000 a day in electricity costs,” Staye says.

This will be especially useful in the summer when Wesleyan uses an average of 65,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity a day to power 90 buildings on campus.

CoGen not only generates electricity, but uses its “wasted” 800-degree heat to make steam and hot water for university use. High Rise residence hall and the Central Power Plant are heated with the thermal energy from the engines cooling system during the winter months and the campus steam loop receives 3,000 pounds of steam per hour year round from the energy in the engine’s exhaust.

CoGen generates 81 percent of Wesleyan's electricity needs. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

CoGen generates 81 percent of Wesleyan’s electricity needs. (Photos by Olivia Drake)

“Conventional power plants emit the heat created as a by-product in to the environment. We’re using a waste product from the engine to make our own steam,” Staye says.

Gary Yohe, the Woodhouse/Sysco Professor of Economics, is an expert on the potential damage of global climate change. He applauds Wesleyan for installing a cogeneration system.

“Wasting energy is never good for the planet so when CoGen works out, it’s good for the bottom line and great for the planet,” Yohe says. “When you burn a ton of fossil fuel, you can waste 75 percent of the energy it makes. If but you have the ability to only waste 50 percent, that is reducing the carbon footprint by a third, and that is substantial.”

Like any vehicle engine, CoGen’s exhaust is toxic. It contains carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and carbon dioxide. To reduce emissions from the engine’s combustion, the exhaust is mixed with a non-hazardous solution of urea, rich in ammonia. The mixture then enters a chamber full of honeycomb-patterned platinum plates and serves as a selective catalytic reactor.

As the exhaust passes through the reactor, a chemical reaction occurs that causes the emissions to break down.

“The nitrogen in the ammonia combines with nitrogen oxides in the exhaust and the resulting gas, now much cleaner, is a combination of nitrogen, oxygen, water vapor and carbon dioxide,” Staye explains. “The process works much the same way as a car’s catalytic converter, but on a much larger scale and with greater precision.”

Wesleyan is producing half of the permitted emissions allowed by the Environmental Protection Agency.

“We’re still making Co2 but the rest of the exhaust stream is very clean,” Staye says.

CoGen cost $4.5 million to install, however a grant from the Connecticut Department of Public Utility supported $1.6 million of the bill. In return, Wesleyan runs the system 24/7 and has agreed to run CoGen from noon to 8 p.m. June 1 through Sept. 31 and Dec. 1 through Jan. 31 to help reduce loads on the regional electrical grid. CoGen’s annual maintenance bill runs about $250,000.

Energy Association Honors Wesleyan for Conservation Efforts

A new 1,500-ton centrifugal chiller in the Central Power Plant uses half the electricity as the one it replaced. The chiller replacement is one reason that Association of Energy Engineers awarded Wesleyan the 2009 Region I Energy Project of the Year Award.

A new 1,500-ton centrifugal chiller in the Central Power Plant uses half the electricity as the one it replaced. The chiller replacement is one reason that Association of Energy Engineers awarded Wesleyan the 2009 Region I Energy Project of the Year Award.

Peter Staye, associate director of utilities, points to the ceiling of the Bacon Field House. About 140 high-tech light fixtures span the width of the dome-roofed gymnasium.

“These are special lights for high ceilings,” he says. “There’s 24 fewer fixtures here than there used to be, and it’s just as bright. If we used florescent fixtures, we’d need 240 of them.”

The new, 350-watt, high-intensity discharge bulbs have replaced the older, 400-watt bulbs, and use 373,000 fewer kilowatt hours per year. They’re also programmed to turn on in zones, and change luminosity throughout the day based on a newly-installed ambient light sensor.

The field house lighting project is one reason Wesleyan was awarded the Association of Energy Engineers 2009 Region I Energy Project of the Year Award. The award will be presented Nov. 3 in Washington D.C.

Wesleyan’s Energy Conservation Project Phase I plan also includes lighting fixture replacements and sensor additions in the Freeman Athletic Center’s basketball court,

Population Growth Topic of Stewart’s Earth Week Rant

Brian Stewart, associate professor of physics, led the second annual Earth Week Rant April 23 in Exley Science Center. The event was open to the entire Wesleyan community.

Brian Stewart, associate professor of physics, led this second annual "Earth Week Rant" April 23 in Exley Science Center. The event was open to the Wesleyan and broader communities.

Stewart focused his rant on the connection between resource depletion, pollution including global warming, and population growth. HHere, Stewart explains the Canadian and U.S. natural gas resources and reserves.

Stewart focused his "rant" on the connection between resource depletion, pollution including global warming, and population growth. Here, Stewart discusses the Canadian and U.S. natural gas resources and reserves.

Stewart hopes his rants lead the Wesleyan community into building a sustainable future. (Photos by Olivia Bartlett)

Stewart decided to establish his annual tradition in recognition of the urgent need for discussion of these critical issues. He regards the nearly full house of attendees from the Wesleyan and broader communities as evidence of the popular appetite for information on resource, pollution and population issues.(Photos by Olivia Bartlett)

Under-the-Desk Waste Baskets Replaced with Recycle Containers

Jonathan Curry, TITLE, and Alex Cabal, area coordinator, have replaced their plastic trash cans with recyclable containers in Residential Life.

Area coodinators Jonathan Connary and Alex Cabal have replaced their plastic trash cans with recyclable containers in Residential Life. (Photo by Intisar Abioto '09)

Trash bins may find themselves down in the dumps, at least around Wesleyan’s campus.

The university is replacing them – one by one – with recyclable containers in attempt to make Wesleyan a “greener” campus community.

“Most everything we throw away at our desks – paper, plastic water bottles and soda cans and cardboard packaging material – is recyclable,” says Jeff Miller, associate director for facilities management. “So why keep a trash can under your desk?”

Miller and other members of Wesleyan’s Recycling and Waste Committee, a subcommittee of Wesleyan’s Sustainable Advisory Group for Environmental Stewardship (SAGES), are spearheading efforts to remove the trash bins from all individual administrative and academic offices.

Wesleyan Cited for Strides in Sustainability

Wesleyan was mentioned in an Oct. 15 issue of The Middletown Press for making “enormous strides in sustainability.” Wesleyan has established a climate action plan with a pledge for the campus to become carbon neutral by 2050. In the article, Bill Nelligan, the director of environmental health, safety and sustainability, stated that “Wesleyan has a strong commitment and the mechanisms in place to live up to those commitments.” The campus has implemented numerous initiatives, including a rideshare program, kitchen waste donation to the city composting program, and a solar panel donation to city schools.

NYT: Wesleyan Top Organic Food School

Wesleyan was cited in a New York Times Sept. 28 article titled “Whole Grains, Fresh Corn: School Menu on a Mission” for buying locally produced food. The article says Wesleyan is “at the head of that class.”