Fairfield University wins a 2010 Energy Star CHP Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for its environmentally-friendly power plant



Image: CHP installationThe United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has honored Fairfield University with a 2010 Energy Star CHP Award for its energy smart combined heat and power plant (CHP).

The eco-friendly plant, located on the Fairfield campus, is helping to considerably reduce the University's carbon footprint and demand on the region's electric grid. Supplying power to the majority of buildings on the 200-acre Fairfield campus, it has efficient technology that lessens pollution, lowering emissions of sulfur dioxide (a leading contributor to acid rain), carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide.

The EPA's Office of Air and Radiation in Washington, D.C. commended Fairfield for its forward-thinking in building the 4.6 MW combustion turbine-based combined heat and power system: "Through the recovery of otherwise wasted heat to produce hot water for campus heating and cooling, Fairfield University has demonstrated exceptional leadership in energy use and management," said Neeharika Naik-Dhungel, of the U.S. EPA Combined Heat and Power Partnership Program, Climate Protection Partnerships Division.

The CHP plant, which began operation in 2007, is a major component of the University's widespread sustainability initiative, supporting the Catholic Jesuit mission to be good stewards of the Earth. It is allowing the University to produce its own electricity utilizing a turbine. The byproduct created is called rejected heat, which is used to help heat and cool a large percentage of the campus structures.

The EPA also praised Fairfield for the plant's efficiency. "The CHP system operates at approximately 55% efficiency and uses approximately 22% less fuel than equivalent separate heat and power," Naik-Dhungel said. "Based on this comparison, the CHP system effectively reduces CO2 emissions by more than 7,400 tons per year."

Interest in the plant from corporations and schools has been considerable. "The number of other institutions that have requested tours of our facility and that are now beginning projects like ours reflects very well on the progressive foresight of the University," said Bill Romatzick, manager of energy controls and plant systems at Fairfield. "Choosing this particular technology that has such a positive impact on the environment, while improving the mechanical infrastructure of the University was a major step forward for us."

The CHP project is an opportunity for Fairfield University to be on the cutting edge of facing rising power costs in a progressive way.

The $9.5 million project was done in collaboration with United Technologies Carrier. The United Illuminating Company gave Fairfield a $2.3 million grant for the project, stemming from the State of Connecticut's Capital Grant for Customer-Side Distributed Generation Resources program.

Image: The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has honored Fairfield University with a 2010 Energy Star CHP Award for its energy smart combined heat and power plant (CHP). The CHP was installed on the Fairfield campus in 2007.

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

Posted on March 1, 2010

Vol. 42, No. 215