United States Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman and Congressman Christopher Shays help unveil Fairfield University's new eco-friendly Combined Heat and Power Plant


On Monday, October 22 at Fairfield University, United States Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman and United States Congressman Christopher Shays took part in a ribbon cutting ceremony for the unveiling of the University's new eco-friendly Combined Heat and Power Plant (CHP).

Combined Heat and Power Plant unveiling
Congressman Christopher Shays, U.S. Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman
and Fairfield University President Rev. Jeffrey P. von Arx, S.J., help
unveil the University's new eco-friendly Combined Heat and Power Plant (CHP)
at the ribbon-cutting ceremony October 22.

The CHP was designed to have the capability to generate almost the entire electrical load of the Fairfield University campus. This will reduce strain on the region's power grid. The plant is expected to reduce the University's overall carbon footprint by more than 10,000 metric tons per year. The project also puts the University on the cutting edge of facing rising power costs head on. Fairfield University President Rev. Jeffrey P. von Arx, S.J., said, "As a Jesuit institution, we're charged to be good stewards of the Earth and we take that mission seriously. The Fairfield community has made a concerted push toward all things green.... This Combined Heat and Power Plant is one of very few on U.S. college campuses."

The CHP will produce as much as 85% of the University's heating and cooling requirements. Electricity is produced via a turbine, built by Solar, a subsidiary of Caterpillar. It is fueled by clean-burning natural gas.

Last year, Fairfield received a $2.3 million grant for the CHP project from the state of Connecticut under a program stemming from the Energy Independence Act signed into law by Gov. M. Jodi Rell. United Technologies Carrier is Fairfield University's partner in this project.

Congressman Shays applauded Fairfield for working with the state to be part of the solution. "What we are seeing is a University respond to a very real energy need and financial need.... Using clean natural gas is a huge contribution."

Secretary Bodman said the CHP was a "shining example" of a green project. "I commend Fairfield University for its foresight and the way it thinks about energy and energy consumption."

Combined Heat and Power Plant unveiling
Fr. Jeffrey P. von Arx spoke about the University's many green
projects. (L-R) Also pictured are Congressman Christopher Shays and U.S.
Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman.

The CHP is designed for efficiency by capturing waste heat and recycling it while also lowering emissions of sulfur dioxide (a leading contributor to acid rain), carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide. The byproduct created is called rejected heat, which will be captured to heat and cool structures on campus.

The grant came from the state's Capital Grant for Customer-Side Distributed Generation Resources program, which awards grants to corporations and schools who are working to provide some or all of their power via generators in an effort to cut down on the strain to the power grid.

The $9.5 million project was done in collaboration with United Technologies Carrier. A 3,000 square-foot addition was built to the University's existing Central Utility Facility. Via the Central Utility Facility, the University has been producing its heat and cooling since 1960, but has relied on outside sources for electricity.

The purpose of the state grant program is to make Connecticut more energy independent, and to reduce the impact of Federally Mandated Congestion Charges on Connecticut ratepayers. The size of the grants is directly related to how much power generation is produced.

Fairfield University has undertaken other green projects. Last week, the Student Environment Association launched the "Change a Light, Change the World" campaign, part of the national Energy Star initiative. Acknowledging the students' efforts, Secretary Bodman referred to the program, and urged homeowners to switch to the energy efficient and money-saving compact fluorescent light bulbs. If every American household took part, in one year's time, the energy savings would be enough to light 3 million homes in America, he said.

The University has installed water-conserving plumbing, and 7,700 lighting fixtures were outfitted with energy-efficient lamps and electronic starters. Energy-saving micro/fridges are available in residence halls and townhouses, and employees who carpool to work are exempt from the annual parking fee.

The new Aloysius P. Kelley, S.J. Center on campus uses energy-efficient equipment and flexible components to reduce its impact on the environment. Carpet tiles, access flooring, structural steel and ceiling tiles are all made of recycled materials.

Windows, up-lighting and an under-floor air system ensure the Kelley Center consumes less energy and delivers a healthier environment for occupants. The Fairfield University Environmental Steering committee of faculty, staff, and students created a University handbook for Earth-friendly living and a companion web site for campus and the surrounding community, which debuted this month. Visit http://www.fairfield.edu/green.

Fr. Von Arx added, "In big ways and small, Fairfield University is committed to making a difference."

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on October 22, 2007

Vol. 40, No. 87