Published: 2014-07-09 The arrival of spring on campus this year coincided with a host of sustainability initiatives that are helping to turn the campus “green” in an environmentally friendly way. From energy-efficient improvements to the establishment of a fund to support student and faculty projects, sustainability is making an impact on the college and the environment alike.
Overseen by Director of Facilities Mike Johnston (03), the installation of 1,000 solar panels on roofs of four campus buildings is just one component of ENC's newest sustainability initiatives
This spring, a total of 1,000 solar panels were installed on the roofs of four campus buildings: Lahue Physical Education Center, Cove Fine Arts Center, and two buildings at ENC’s Old Colony Campus. Vice President for Finance Jan Weisen said the college had received several proposals in recent years from companies seeking to enter into a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Eastern Nazarene College. After reviewing the options, ENC opted to work with Massachusetts-based Solect.
“Through the PPA, Solect pays to install the solar panels, then sells the energy generated back to ENC at a discounted rate,” Weisen explained. “We project that the new solar panels will generate up to one-third of ENC’s electricity needs and save us approximately $200,000 a year in energy costs.”
As part of the PPA, Solect installs the solar panels, leasing use of ENC’s roof space for $1 a year for 20 years. At the end of that time, the company can either remove the panels at their expense or donate them to the college as a tax write-off. ENC may also consider buying the panels.
“According to the terms of our lease, 20 years from now our energy costs per kilowatt hour will still be lower than what we were paying before we installed the solar panels,” Weisen said.
Another major sustainability project happening this summer is the conversion of ENC’s central heating plant from oil to gas. Currently, ENC’s central plant is fueled by three oil-burning boilers, Campus goes green through sustainability initiatives all of which are nearly 60 years old. Through the conversion, ENC’s largest and newest boiler will be retrofitted to gas while the two older boilers will be replaced by a 10 million BTU gas-fired boiler, which will connect to a new gas line to be installed by National Grid.
“Converting to gas will result in significant savings for ENC,” Weisen said, noting that it will only take the college approximately three years to recoup the costs associated with the conversion.
Lighting, HVAC and More
One of the first sustainability initiatives ENC pursued in recent years was the replacement of inefficient campus lighting. Over the past three years, the college has replaced older fluorescent lighting with more energy-efficient models or LED lighting. Automated HVAC control systems have also resulted in considerable
“In December 2012, we installed an automated energy management system at our Old Colony Campus,” Weisen said. “The new system allows us to schedule heating and cooling to coincide with building occupancy so that we can save energy when the building isn’t occupied.”
This summer, a similar system will be installed in Nease Library – another campus building with high energy usage. In addition, ENC has been working with National Grid to complete a number of other energy-efficient upgrades.
“We partnered with National Grid to conduct a comprehensive energy audit, which identified a number of areas for potential energy savings,” Weisen said. “National Grid has a program whereby ENC can apply to receive a two-year, interest-free loan to complete some of these upgrades, so we’ve identified a number of additional sustainability projects that offer a return on investment of two years or less.”
ENC’s current sustainability projects build on earlier campus efforts to operate in an environmentally responsible way. One small change, for example, that resulted in significant water savings was the elimination of trays from The Commons cafeteria.
“(Removing trays) had everything to do with saving the environment,” Director of Food Services Rick Harmon said. “We provide about 1,000 meals a day, and by removing trays we are saving about 100 racks of trays per day going through the dishwasher, saving water and reducing the use of chemicals.”
ENC students are also becoming engaged in sustainability: The Student Government Association recently committed $10,000 to launch a Green Revolving Fund. Through the fund, members of the ENC community can submit proposals to fund green initiatives on campus. A panel comprised of SGA and administration representatives will review the proposals and select which projects to support. Subsequent savings will be reinvested in the fund to support future projects.
Outgoing SGA President Ryan Piesco (14) and incoming President Crystal Erb (15) worked with sustainability consultants EcoMotion to draft the proposal for the fund.
“The Green Revolving Fund is a way to celebrate the work that’s being done and ensure its continuation by further integrating sustainability into the culture of ENC,” Piesco said. “SGA invested the funds to launch this initiative and we trust the Cabinet and future leaders will carry forward the implementation of it. We are excited at this opportunity to make a lasting impact at ENC.”
Vice President of Student Development Jeff Kirksey agreed.
“Very often, these types of initiatives have a good return on investment, generating energy savings for the college as we reduce consumption, explore new energy sources or reduce waste,” Kirksey said. “It’s a wonderful first step that dovetails nicely with the many other green initiatives underway on campus.”
Solar panels were installed on the roofs of 160 Old Colony Avenue and Campus Kinder Haus
This article appeared in the Summer 2014 issue of the Christian Scholar. Visit the Christian Scholar Archives to read more from this issue and other issues.