2 universities honored for sustainable energy upgrades

Oct. 23, 2013
Cornell and Texas A&M receive 2013 Global District Energy Awards

Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., and Texas A&M University in College Station have been named winners of 2013 Global District Energy Awards.

The awards recognize communities and institutions that demonstrate the importance of district energy systems in providing sustainable energy solutions.

Cornell was honored for its new Combined Heat and Power (CHP) Plant, which has reduced campus greenhouse gas emissions by 55,000 metric tons a year.

Texas A&M was recognized for an upgrade of its combined heat and power energy system that has resulted in sizable cost savings.

The International District Energy Association defines district energy systems as ones that produce steam, hot water or chilled water at a central plant. The steam, hot water or chilled water is then piped underground to individual buildings for space heating, domestic hot water heating and air conditioning. The benefits of district energy include more efficient use of energy, better protection of the environment and decreased life-cycle costs.

The two universities received their awards last month at a ceremony in New York City.

Cornell’s new power plant produces 215 million kilowatt-hours of electricity a year, enough to provide 80 percent of the electric power consumed on the Ithaca campus. It serves about 150 buildings—a total of 13 million square feet.

The plant enables the university to reduce pollution on campus by eliminating the burning of 60,000 metric tons a year of coal. The system’s electrical production displaces electricity that had been purchased from the local utility company, and the heating steam production displaces steam that had been produced by existing boilers.

Texas A&M’s system upgrade was a $70 million project that included a $10 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. The university had anticipated that the improved plant would generate savings of $500,000 a month; actual savings in the first month were $1 million.

The Texas A&M system upgrade also has been recognized with a 2013 Energy Star CHP Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA says the CHP system has reduced carbon dioxide emissions on the College Station campus by 99,600 tons per year. Overall, the university’s energy-reduction efforts since 2002 have resulted in $140 million in savings.

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