ith the costs of higher education continuing to soar, many colleges and universities are looking for innovative ways to lower expenses, while simultaneously pursuing their long-term sustainability goals. The University of New Hampshire (UNH) is proving that both objectives are, indeed, achievable.
UNH is the largest university in that state. Its Durham campus, home to approximately 15,000 students, covers 1,100 acres, with 300 acres devoted to its campus "core." Although by all appearances a "traditional New England campus," UNH takes great pride in being among the first higher education institutions in America to pursue an environmental sustainability program.
One of the most notable of these programs is EcoLine, a project designed to provide the campus with non-fossil fuel energy via landfill gas from Waste Management's Turnkey Recycling and Environmental Enterprise (TREE) facility in Rochester, N.H., approximately 13 miles away. Developed in partnership with Waste Management, the $45 million program currently provides the campus with up to 85 percent of all its energy needs.
EcoLine works by capturing naturally produced landfill gas at TREE via a system of 300 extraction wells, miles of collection pipes, and compressors. The gas, mostly carbon dioxide and methane, is "scrubbed" and then sent via an underground pipeline to the UNH campus where it's used to power an on-site cogenerator, which produces both heat and electricity. The cogenerator is a particularly efficient piece of technology because it captures heat produced during the production of electricity, heat that can then be used to warm campus buildings and other facilities.
Specific benefits of the EcoLine project include:
- Payback of its $45 million cost within 10 years (conservatively), with considerable cost savings thereafter.
- Improved budget control, as UNH can now avoid the wild price fluctuations associated with oil and natural gas.
- Key strategic element of UNH's strategy to meet the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment.
So successful is EcoLine that it was named the "2009 Project of the Year" by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Landfill Methane Outreach Program.
WASTE MANAGEMENT'S WORK WITH UNH IS JUST ONE example of how the company's commitment to sustainable energy solutions is paying off for higher education. The company's sustainability audits can help colleges and universities assess their current energy footprint – the first step toward establishing a longer-range strategic plan that is environmentally sustainable and cost effective.
For more information call Paul Pistono, Vice President of Public Sector Solutions, at 1 888 558 6390. Or visit wm.com/campus.