Syracuse University commits to purchasing at least 20 percent of its electricity from renewable energy sources
Syracuse University commits to purchasing at least 20 percent of its electricity from renewable energy sourcesApril 15, 2005Kevin Morrowkdmorrow@syr.edu
Syracuse University will begin purchasing a minimum of 20 percent of its electricity in the form of renewable energy, as of July 1, 2005. Renewable energy sources take many forms, including wind, hydropower, solar, biomass and geothermal.
“By committing to the use of renewable energy, Syracuse University is showing we are serious in taking a leadership role in the area of sustainability and energy conservation,” says SU Chancellor Nancy Cantor. “This is exemplified by our great strides in campus energy management over the years, as well as the sustainable design aspects of the Whitman School’s new building and the programmatic efforts of the Syracuse Center of Excellence in Environmental and Energy Systems, in which SU is the lead partner.”
Says SU Senior Vice President for Business, Finance and Administrative Services Louis G. Marcoccia, “Our commitment is very aggressive in that we are setting a substantial goal of moving to 20 percent implementation in a very short timeframe.” In comparison, in 2003, Gov. George E. Pataki issued an executive order directing that buildings owned, leased or operated by state agencies obtain 10 percent of their annual electrical needs from renewable energy sources by 2005 and then move to 20 percent by 2010.
Marcoccia convened a meeting April 13 involving administrators and a small group of concerned individuals including students representing the Student Environmental Action Coalition. Cantor and Marcoccia had previously discussed the topic of renewable energy, and the Chancellor expressed her commitment, which led to a very successful April 13 meeting, he says.
“The group had some concerns and called for the University to step up in embracing renewable energy usage,” Marcoccia says. “I give the students credit for their caring and for bringing attention to the need for renewable energy sources.”
A request for proposals (RFP) will go out next week to 12 pre-approved retail electric suppliers identified as renewable energy providers. Upon receipt and review of the responses, a supplier contract will be awarded for the purchase of renewable energy commencing with the start of the University’s new fiscal year, July 1. Deadline for receipt of responses to the RFP is the first week in May.
SU uses about 110 million kWh per year. Electricity is transmitted to campus via Niagara Mohawk/National Grid power lines. Currently, Niagara Mohawk/National Grid supplies 20 percent of SU’s electricity; that relationship will continue. The remaining 80 percent comes from other retail electric suppliers.
Electricity from renewable sources tends to be more expensive than electricity generated by traditional sources, Marcoccia says, but the use of renewable energy is consistent with the University’s values and commitment to the environment, and the added cost will be accommodated along with other variances in the normal fall revision to the institution’s budget plan.
Campus improvements boost energy conservation
Through past energy conservation initiatives, SU has reduced its energy consumption by more than 30 million kWh per year. Among these initiatives are expansion of SU’s energy management system, including advanced space temperature and occupancy controls; an extensive preventative maintenance program; the establishment of an “energy council” with student, faculty and staff representation; lighting retrofits; and the installation of heat recovery systems, LED exit signs, new fumehood controls and a real-time campus metering system.
In addition, in February, a building sustainability committee was launched with Marcoccia as chair. Among its responsibilities the committee is reviewing the University’s current sustainable design practices, documenting SU’s use of green products, developing building sustainability protocols, and reviewing processes for obtaining Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.
Whitman School’s new home an example of sustainability
The new 160,000-square-foot home of the Whitman School of Management (http://sominfo.syr.edu/) is a prime example of SU’s commitment to sustainable design and energy conservation. The building was designed with products and technologies that minimize the building’s impact on the environment and reduce energy use. The design also provides visual and thermal access to the natural environment and improves interior comfort.
A high-efficiency air filtration system-using under-floor ventilation in classrooms and the building’s Grand Hall-increases indoor air quality, which is continually monitored with demand ventilation controls.
Energy saving design features include occupancy sensor lighting controls, radiant heating and cooling, high-efficiency pumps and fans, and reflective roofing.
The central communicating corridor that runs the length of the building maximizes the amount of daylight penetration to all of the interior spaces; maximum use of daylight contributes to a brighter, healthier and more productive environment. Energy-effective classroom lighting offers high-quality ambient light and focused task lighting, producing a comfortable and adaptive learning environment.
Recycled materials, including blast furnace slag and fly ash, were used in the concrete footings, foundation walls and precast site elements, reducing landfill contributions and the emissions produced in making cement. Also, no chlorofluorocarbons were used in any mechanical equipment, helping reduce ozone depletion and global warming.
Restored landscape areas have new shade trees and reduce the impact of rainwater runoff from hardscape surfaces.
Syracuse Center of Excellence research explores new opportunities for renewable and clean energy
Syracuse University is also supporting sustainability through the research and development activities of the Syracuse Center of Excellence (CoE) in Environmental and Energy Systems (http://www.coees.org/), a federation of collaborative partners focused on creating new technologies for buildings and urban communities. The Syracuse CoE is led by SU and includes contributions from more than 70 academic and industry partners.
The Syracuse CoE’s current projects focused on renewable and clean energy include:
- evaluation of opportunities to use woody biomass for combined production of heating, cooling and electric power (conducted by Syracuse University);
- development of a process to produce ethanol from woody biomass (conducted by the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry);
- development of systems for dairy farms that produce electric power using cow manure (conducted by Cornell University); and
- development of small wind turbines (conducted by Clarkson University).
Commercial firms engaged with academic partners in the Syracuse CoE include Northeast Biofuels, Empire Biofuels, Lionsdale, Fuel Cell Energy and Terra Solar.