First, the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh (UW Oshkosh) bought a vacated big-box grocery store building in 2009 and recycled it into its Campus Services headquarters and shops. Then, at the urging of students envisioning a greener campus, the university completed its dry fermentation anaerobic biodigester right next door to the former store in 2011.
The biogas plant’s airless, indoor chambers vacuum methane off of rotting heaps of campus food, grass clippings and agriculturally sourced plant matter. Up to 10 percent of the campus’ power is generated by the innovative system, and a research facility was created, which is overseen and operated by staff and students.
Now onto the next step: a more symbiotic and sustainable relationship between the two buildings, located just 160 feet or so apart. UW Oshkosh will receive a grant for more than $24,000 to help develop the infrastructure necessary to “recover waste heat from the biodigester to heat the Campus Services Building,” according to the proposal filed with the “Focus on Energy Large Energy User Program.”