Fairfield University receives Energy Star Award from EPA at Texas ceremony

Image: Cogen interiorFor its "innovative techniques to generate power and thermal energy" on campus, Fairfield University was presented with a 2010 Energy Star Combined Heat and Power Award by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) at a recent ceremony in Houston, Texas. "These techniques have led to energy savings, reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, and decreased air pollution, which can reduce the impacts on the public's health," according to the EPA.

More and more schools, cities and corporations nationwide are building eco-friendly combined heat and power plants (CHP) to deal with energy demands. In 2007, Fairfield built its cost-effective, energy producing CHP on the campus, where it provides power to the majority of buildings; it's a major part of the University's sustainability initiative, supporting the Catholic Jesuit mission to be good stewards of the Earth. The University's David W. Frassinelli, associate vice president For Facilities Management; Bill Romatzick, manager of Energy Controls and Plant Systems; and the Energy Department oversee the CHP.

Fairfield was recognized with three other facilities - the Gainesville Regional Utilities in Florida; Eastern Maine Medical Center and the Port Arthur Steam Energy and Landis Sewerage Authority in New York. According to the EPA, this year's four award winners reduced the amount of carbon emissions equivalent to the emissions from more than 32,000 passenger vehicles.

"Our Energy Star CHP award winners are demonstrating environmental leadership by utilizing highly-efficient combined heat and power systems, which are a clean and reliable approach to generating electric power and thermal energy," said Elizabeth Craig, acting director of the Climate Protection Partnerships Division at the Office of Air and Radiation at the EPA. "By using combined heat and power, Fairfield University is decreasing its energy costs and reducing emissions of greenhouse gases which contribute to global climate change."

The EPA praised Fairfield for joining the ranks of institutes of higher learning that produce their own heat and power because of mounting concerns over rising energy costs and a congested utility grid. In commending Fairfield, the EPA observed, "The University began operating a CHP system that generates nearly 95 percent of the power needed by the campus and produces up to 66 percent of the school's high temperature hot water heating and cooling supply. The recovery and utilization of otherwise wasted heat from the 4.6 MW Solar Turbine has led to estimated annual savings of $2.2 million."

With an operating efficiency of approximately 55 percent, the CHP system requires approximately 22 percent less fuel than typical onsite thermal generation and purchased electricity, according to the EPA. Based on this comparison, the CHP system effectively reduces CO2 emissions by an estimated 7,400 tons per year. This reduction is equivalent to the annual emissions from more than 1,200 passenger vehicles.

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 U.S. EPA recognized Fairfield University's outstanding pollution reduction and energy efficiency efforts with an ENERGY STAR CHP Award. The combined heat and power plant, or CHP, is housed in the Central Utility Facility on campus. Bill Romatzick, manager of Energy Controls and Plant Systems, showed the CHP to Congressman Jim Himes last year.

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

Posted on November 22, 2010

Vol. 43, No. 126

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