By George Harvey
In addition to teaching sustainability in their courses, our colleges are getting results that are exemplary from all angles. We have chosen three in our region that are quite impressive. They are truly ‘Walking their Talk!”
● Keene State College, in Keene, New Hampshire, has received LEED Platinum certification for their Technology, Design, and Safety (TDS) Center. The students studying in the building will have an ongoing functioning example of energy efficiency and renewable production all around them as they work.
One of the most impressive things about the TDS Center is that unlike most LEED Platinum certified buildings, which are built from scratch, part of the work to achieve their certification entailed upgrading a pre-existing building. This meant that difficult choices had to be made and important work had to be done, which would have been far easier without the constraints of old construction.
Perfection in efficiency starts with the building envelope. When all was ready, the firm Zero By Degrees did the blower door testing, producing surprisingly good results. Of course, the new construction fared best, but careful work on the existing building meant it did very well also.
Triple glazed, argon filled windows were used in the new construction. The older parts of the building, with windows only six years old, got additional storm windows. Other features include such things as low flow bathroom fixtures with waterless urinals.
A PV array covering 40% of the roof area provides 15% of the power for the building, which includes electricity for wood and metal shops. As funds become available, the PV array will be expanded to cover the entire roof. The array produced 82.2 MWh in the period from June to September. There is also solar thermal hot water.
The building got 85 points toward LEED Platinum status, five more than the 80 points being needed for platinum rating. This is a truly impressive achievement. Colin Burdick, of Keene State, did much of the project’s on-campus organization.
Architerra Inc was the architect. Brown Sardina provided landscape architecture. The civil, structural, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, HVAC engineers were from Rist-Frost-Shumway Engineering. Atalier Ten did energy & carbon modeling. Commissioning agent was Rist-Frost-Shumway Engineering, and the enhanced commissioning agent was Demand Management Institute. Solar Source, the Melanson Company, Inc., of Keene, New Hampshire, undertook the job of installing the solar array, a unique installation on a steel I-beam structure above the building’s roof.
● Castleton College, in Castleton, Vermont, has four new micro-wind turbines installed on the roof of Hoff Hall. The turbines are part of an experiment by the manufacturer and hosted by the college, partly to find out how the turbines do in the Vermont weather.
The Zefr micro-turbines are very small. Their blade diameter is only three feet, and they produce only one kilowatt, when operating at full power.
They share the rooftop with a 28.8 kW solar array, which they compliment to a degree. On a day-to-day basis, the wind blows hardest at night, when PVs produce no power at all. Seasonally, the wind is strongest in the winter, on average, when the sunlight has least energy.
The manufacturer of the Zefr turbines is JLM Energy of Rocklin, California. The original impetus for the project came from Green Mountain Power, which brought JLM Energy and Castleton College together. JLM Energy gave Castleton two of the turbines, and other funding was from the college, with students and faculty chipping in to do much of the work. The mounting system was designed by Peck Electric, of South Burlington, Vermont.
The turbines were mounted in such a way that they are very visible on the campus. It is the hope of the college that more wind projects may develop.
Speaking of the installation of the new micro-turbines, Mary Powell, President and CEO of Green Mountain Power, commented, “Partnerships like this are one of the keys to changing the way energy is generated and used in Vermont. GMP is excited to be working with organizations that are willing to try new things in the quest for energy solutions.”
● Green Mountain College, located in Poultney, Vermont, is getting a new solar array. The solar farm will have a capacity of 156 kW, and is intended to help the college “walk the walk,” as it talks the talk, teaching students about renewable energy.
The team working on the array is headed by Khanti Munro, who graduated from Green Mountain College in 2005, and who was instrumental in putting up the campus’s first wind turbine.
The solar farm is sited near tennis courts and a nature conservatory, close to a biomass facility. The combination of wind, solar, and biomass is being developed to reduce the college’s use of fossil fuels and reduce its carbon footprint. Other ways to reduce fossil fuels are also being used, including the use of electric vehicles.
The solar project will have 624 modules of 250 watts each, mounted on 24 stationary racks, used to reduce maintenance. The output power is equivalent to what would be needed for 20 to 30 ordinary homes.
Khanti Munro is vice president of Positive Energy, of Granville, N.Y., which is the company awarded the installation contract. Green Lantern Capital of Waterbury, Vermont, is financing it.
It is exciting to see such impressive progress in our colleges and universities. We certainly look forward to more with anticipation. We will keep you updated.