February carbon & waste planning updates

Update on Energy and Carbon Master Plan

In the fall of 2021 the college initiated the development of a comprehensive energy plan that provides a pathway for substantially reducing our campus greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions over the next 10-15 years.  Dubbed the Energy and Carbon Master Plan (ECMP), it will translate the 2021 Strategic Plan’s campus decarbonization goal into a detailed technical plan and timeline for converting the piped steam heating system fed by the natural gas-fired central plant to a low temperature hot water (LTHW) system based primarily on low carbon energy.

The college engaged engineering firm RMF, partnering with CES and Consigli, which has compiled a large amount of building, HVAC systems, and historic energy use data to develop a comprehensive energy model for the campus. Based on this model and additional information on potential clean, renewable energy sources, several campus energy conversion scenarios will be evaluated on factors such as (i) estimated GHG emissions reductions, (ii) life cycle costs, (iii) impacts of the conversion schedule on campus operations and (iv) flexibility to integrate future clean energy technologies.

Some of the energy sources that are being considered include borehole or aquifer thermal energy storage, non-woody biofuels, electric boilers, and air source heat pumps.  Each has its own strengths and limitations and it is likely that no single solution will dominate all others with respect to decarbonization, reliability, and cost effectiveness.  The draft ECMP is anticipated in the spring/summer and we will provide updates as the work progresses.

-Tanja Srebotnjak and Jason Moran


Update on Zero Waste Action Plan (ZWAP)

Quick recap: The college’s strategic plan outlined goals relating to waste and purchasing which are now being further detailed out by the Zero Waste Action Planning Group (ZWAPG), led by the Zilkha Center and including both stakeholders from across campus who engage with waste, surplus, and procurement and student representatives.  The resulting document – the Zero Waste Action Plan (ZWAP) – will become a living document that will guide the college’s zero waste strategy and operations.  

After meeting as a full group in November and December, the ZWAPG started breakout group meetings to dive into the details of what a surplus storage facility might look like and how the college could strengthen its reusable to-go ware program. Meetings have continued with various stakeholder groups such as Athletics to better understand opportunities to improve collection of reusable containers and reduce the amount of single use disposables.  In addition, our team recognizes that improving zero waste means not just investing in waste infrastructure, but also ensuring that the college has the staffing in place to implement those efforts.  Part of our research involves understanding the employees needed to for various programs and how to phase in those programs over time

The ZWAP will be delivered to senior leadership in late spring and we hope to publish it by summer.

-Mike Evans