Chapter 5: Mitigation Strategies

The road map for the elimination of GHG emissions at PSU is already started, but we have a long way to go. We have begun the process of measuring our current status and have been working for the past eight to ten years undertaking projects that have provided for energy reductions and cost savings, as well as a reduction of overall university deferred maintenance. Looking ahead to our future options, a small working group of facilities staff, IT personnel, and a representative from the local electric co-op have studied the options and sequencing of planned and available projects. These projects were matched with the university Strategic and Master Plan to assure that all elements of campus planning are fitting together.

First five years: 2010 to 2015

  • Continue to focus on better understanding our energy sources and uses.
  • Continue to invest in annual projects from deferred maintenance funding that have an immediate impact on GHG and reduce associated energy costs.
  • Study the options for replacing our fossil fuel-based heating and electrical system and develop a plan and financing for implementation as soon as practical.
  • Develop a number of demonstration projects that will serve as both educational and practical experiments for learning about various technologies as they are developed.
  • Finish the development of construction standards for future new and rehabilitation work.
  • Provide training to all operations on campus to reduce their impact on the campus environment.

Several specific projects are to be completed over the next five years:

  • Complete metering for steam and electricity across the remainder of the campus.
  • Re-commission all existing buildings.
  • Finish the upgrade and replacement of the underground steam system.
  • Develop minimum construction standards for new and rehab construction.
  • Develop standards for vehicle purchases.
  • Create procedures to insure that all other equipment purchases comply with Energy Star standards.
  • Form a study committee in 2010 to begin planning for a new biomass plant to be added no later than 2014 (consider a community heating options if financially feasible).
  • Form a study committee in 2011 to consider the value of additional geothermal locations on campus for heating and cooling.
  • Introduce demonstration projects annually to demonstrate various technologies that could be implemented on campus and to serve as an academic research activity for graduate and undergraduate students (for example, projects could consider solar, wind, fuel cells, pellet biomass heating in smaller buildings, and the use of cisterns to water campus lawns).
  • Make the Climate Action Plan report an integral part of all campus planning including the updates to the campus Master Plan scheduled for 2014.

Next ten years: 2015 to 2025

  • Replace the current heating system with a biomass plant for heat and a portion of the campus electrical load.
  • Work with the NHEC as they comply with GHG laws for renewable energy to balance the university load.
  • Form a study committee to investigate the technologies that will be the best replacement for the engine that uses fossil fuel to create electricity.
  • Form a study committee to review the impact of commuting to campus and develop methods to mitigate some or all of the GHG impact.
  • Install solar or geothermal or possibly wind powered generation on campus to target 2025 GHG goals.

Remaining 25 years to 2050

PSU will need technologies that are currently under development, or not yet known, to help eliminate the remaining GHG emissions. For example, improvements in automobile efficiencies such as the electric car will in time reduce GHG’s from commuting. Further, as the NHEC purchases more electricity from renewable sources our GHG emissions will be reduced, but the university needs to find an economical way to produce electricity without using fossil fuels. To make sure that the university is investigating all possibilities, we will continue to incorporate the CAP report and future planning as part of the strategic and master planning for the university.

Following is a detailed list of specific mitigation strategies that are currently under review by the Commission. Over the next five years, we will work through these and either eliminate them as not being feasible or affordable, or refine them into real projects and, if funding is available, move ahead with the project. The following actions are divided among physical plant, campus education and orientation, information technology, and transportation.

Physical Plant

Biomass I

The introduction of a biomass plant to generate the majority of the heating load for the campus would reduce our overall GHGs by as much as 39%. The 2008 feasibility study done by NORESCO shows that there is a ready supply of woody material available in this region and that the long-term cost savings could be significant. That report also indicated that construction of a plant would be very expensive. The university is continuing to review biomass options that may reduce capital costs and still achieve our GHG reduction goals. The next steps in this review are as follows:

  • The Vice President for Finance and Administration will start a task force in 2010 to continue to review the feasibility study, talk with the local schools, Speare Memorial Hospital, and the National Guard Armory to confirm their continued financial interest in a district heating project.
  • Using the 2008 study, the VPFA will develop a series of financial plans and projections using different fuel scenarios, such as wood chips versus pellets.
  • The university should consider approaching neighbors to discuss the use or sale of their property adjacent to the current plant.
  • At the end of the current contract with NORESCO in 2014, we must be prepared to move quickly with construction of a biomass addition and also be prepared with a new Utility management structure.

Biomass II

The university should consider installing a pellet heating system in one or more of our smaller facilities that currently burns #2 fuel oil, such as the old church property, 20 Highland Street, and/or EcoHouse. There are labor cost, delivery, and availability issues with this approach which need to be reviewed and considered. However, having a practical experiment on campus would help us explore and better understand this technology, its fuel delivery requirements, and cost methods. The elimination of oil as a fuel in our smaller buildings would eliminate as much as 40,000 gallons of #2 fuel per year.

We should re-commission all major buildings on campus. Re-commissioning older buildings is a process of making sure that a building’s systems, such as heating and air handling, are working as designed. The proper tuning of a building will make sure it is running as efficiently as possible.


By using geothermal energy at the new ice arena, we have reduced the electrical demand by upwards of 33% compared to a conventional building. Based on the success of this implantation, we recommend that the university conduct a study of the entire campus to find other locations and uses where a geothermal field would provide a similar benefit. We further recommend that as the university continues with the design of future phases of the ALLWell Center, we consider geothermal to be a major energy source.


There are a variety of solar products available that need to be reviewed and considered:

  • Photo Voltaic will require the placement of solar panels on roofs around campus where we receive the most solar benefit. We recommend that we contract with a specialist for large building installations to review all of our major roofs and create a plan that will take into account issues such as the effect of solar panels and roof warranties and develop a prioritized list for adding solar PV to the campus. By adding solar panels over time, the university will grow the amount of renewable electricity produced on campus, begin a replacement cycle, and allow the university to take advantage of new technologies as they are developed. Further, this decision will not lock the university into a single technology that may be outdated in a short time. An example would be to invest $50,000 annually and, assuming the technology remains the same, to mount 10 KWh of PV. This would produce approximately 13,000 KWh and, by 2025, would amount to 195,000 KWh, or 2% of our current electric load.
  • As the university plans future phases of the ALLWell center, we will need to design a roof that will maximize a solar PV system. The goals for these new facilities should be a design that is GHG neutral.
  • Solar hot water should be considered on buildings that have a major use of hot water. Prospect Hall and the HUB are the two buildings that should be considered first.
  • The use of day lighting instead of artificial lighting is a major energy saver. To maximize this, buildings generally need to be designed with this in mind. All new buildings should have as a standard that day lighting should be maximized at all times.


It is unclear if there is enough wind on campus to make an investment in wind turbines affordable. We recommend that our meteorology department be asked to do a study of several locations on campus and provide a recommendation for a demonstration project. The results of these experiments will be critical to the final decision to install or not install wind turbines.

Annual Energy Conservation Projects

This is a category that is difficult to define because it contains a variety of different projects that change annually, such as lighting retrofits, installation of occupancy sensors, building envelope improvements, motors and fans replacement, and the expansion of the energy management system. This type of retrofitting of the campus will allow for the greatest possible energy savings. For instance, commercial sized composters are currently being considered for the dining hall and snack bar. If adopted, a reduction in solid waste of 20% is possible, and the compost produced would be used on our lawns and gardens across campus. Following are several specific recommendations:

  • The university should develop a long range deferred maintenance plan focused on energy conservation and should commit to an annual investment.
  • We should conduct a study of our older buildings to see if we can reduce heating demand by the installation of heat recovery units.
  • When the next master plan is developed, the university may want to consider the replacement of all the smaller, less energy efficient buildings on campus with one new facility that would be a highly efficient building.
  • The university should survey major buildings that remain open on nights and weekends to see if it is possible to consolidate activities in one location, which allow several buildings to shut down earlier in the evening and reduce electrical and heating demand.

Campus Education and Orientation

The university should install an information feedback system in all major buildings that demonstrates energy consumption within that building. These real time displays keep the occupants of a building informed about their energy consumption and will help change living habits, which reduces demand for heat and electricity.

The annual orientation for new students should be updated to include a greater emphasis on sustainability and the new student’s responsibilities to the university community. These efforts would focus on recycling habits, heat and electrical use in the residence halls, as well as an introduction to the issues around sustainability as it pertains to their lives.

The university should expand the annual fall energy competitions and spring RecycleMania competitions. We have shown year after year that these programs heighten awareness and reduce consumption.

Campus Information Technology

Computers and related infrastructure have increased the university’s demand for electricity significantly over the past twenty years. Our IT operation is taking steps to bring this demand under control and, in fact, reduce electrical consumption. The conversion to virtual servers and the remote control of student lab space is a great direction. The university will also take the following actions:

  • Continue to replace multiple servers with virtual servers which will reduce the number of servers by 10 to 1 (this reduces the annual cost of server replacement, reduces the amount of electricity consumed to operate the servers and reduces the amount of air-conditioning necessary to cool them).
  • Review ways to further reduce air-conditioning needs for centralized computer rooms.
  • Review the possibility of moving as many of the computers on campus away from a desk top model to a thin client technology (this will reduce the annual cost of replacing computers; it will also reduce the amount of energy consumed by the large number of public computers on campus).
  • Establish a policy that all printers and computers should have duplexing (printing on both sides of the paper) set as the default.


Commuter and parking related issues are difficult for the university to control. Student faculty and staff commute to campus because other than the campus shuttle service there is no public transportation available in our region, and it is unlikely that there will be any in the near future. We believe that given time the cars purchased by our constituents will be more and more energy efficient, eventually becoming GHG free. There are several actions we can take to encourage a movement in this direction:

  • Develop a better tracking tool for measuring the many aspects of campus travel.
  • Review the campus fleet vehicles replacement plan and set standards that will minimize energy use and reduce emissions by purchasing more hybrid type vehicles.
  • Provide electric outlet close to buildings and allow only electric cars to park there.
  • Create specific parking spots for compact cars, thus requiring larger vehicles to park further away from the main campus.
  • Expand the shuttle services to create a new route that would include Russell and Langdon Streets so the students living on these streets stop driving to campus.
  • Provide distance-learning and web conferencing tools, training and support to enable students, faculty, and staff to participate in these and other electronic communications where such activities can appropriately replace land and air travel.