Tag Archive for sustainability
by Olivia Drake •
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.
“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.
by Olivia Drake •
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,
by Olivia Drake •
by Olivia Drake •
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.
by Olivia Drake •
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.
by Olivia Drake •
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.”
by Olivia Drake •
|President Michael Roth, center, signed a document Nov. 16 stating that he and Wesleyan will support measures to fight global climate change. Pictured left to right are Bill Nelligan, director of Environmental Health, Safety and Sustainability; Jacob Mirsky ’08, representative of EON; Roth; Jim Dresser, chair of the Wesleyan Board of Trustees; Matthew Ball ’08, member of the Wesleyan Student Assembly.|
| President Michael Roth signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment before an applauding crowd of several dozen Wesleyan students, staff, faculty and trustees on Nov. 16.
The commitment can be seen in full text here. It has been signed by 434 other college and university presidents to date.
The impetus to sign the agreement was in part a result of efforts by the Wesleyan environmentalist organization known as EON (Environmental Organizers Group). Wesleyans student assembly also passed a measure in support of Roth signing the document.
We hoped that president Roth would listen to our plea, said Jacob Mirsky 08, an EON member who spoke at the signing. By signing the commitment, President Roth is ensuring Wesleyans institutional dedication to fight global climate change.
EON and others on campus raised awareness about the commitment in September. After discussing the initiative with members of his administration, Roth decided to add his signature, and Wesleyans commitment, to the pledge.
I think its really important to make an institutional commitment to improve our behavior as we deal with this crisis of climate change, Roth said. We cant cure the ills of the world, but we can take steps to do what we can to make the world a better place.
Roth pointed out that Wesleyans commitment to green initiatives has been longstanding and expansive. A few of these measures include:
— Between 2002 and 2006, Wesleyan reduced electrical power consumption, which constitutes the greatest annual variable cost incurred by the university, from 4.5 megawatts to 3.5 megawatts. This was done through conservation measures, load shedding and power plant management, and achieved while new buildings were being opened for use. Conservation efforts alone produced a 4.5 percent electrical consumption reduction between 2005 and 2006.
— The recent 270 bed Fauver Residence was designed and built to be one of the most energy-efficient facilities of its kind. In 2005, the residence was awarded with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Certification (LEED). LEED is an independently developed standard for environmentally-friendly design and construction.
— The university has completed 29 energy management projects in the last three years that have an average return on investment of 1.8 years and have produced annual energy savings of more than $275,000.
— The university plans to install a cogeneration system, also known as CoGen. CoGen is the use of a single fuel source to simultaneously generate both electricity and heat. The CoGen system would be integrated with Wesleyans existing facilities. It will cost approximately $1.7 million after a $1.3 million rebate from the Connecticut Department of Public Utility. The facility will save about $500,000 a year in energy costs.
In addition, Wesleyan has undertaken dozens of smaller scale measures to improve environmental efficiency and expand green practices, all of which cumulatively are producing visible results. In addition, the university has undertaken extensive recycling efforts.
To continue to do these things this will not be easy, Roth said. It will cost us some money and we will have to rethink some plans. But it is a commitment we all feel strongly about. We are creating momentum for change.
|By David Pesci, director of Media Relations|