Campus Energy Use
The Evergreen State College is committed to a clean, renewable energy future. We recognize the urgency of reducing our dependence on finite and polluting fossil fuel energy and have committed to carbon neutrality by 2020. This goal presents our college with a significant challenge that will require a collective effort – a combination of individual and community behavior changes coupled with institutional investments in cleaner, more efficient technologies.
Campus Energy Infrastructure
The college currently consumes purchased electricity, natural gas, propane, and distillate oil for heat and power. Thanks to the student supported green fee, all of Evergreen's electricity is certified green through our purchase of Renewable Energy Credits.
Over 90% of the Evergreen campus is heated by a district steam-heat system powered by natural gas. A few small buildings are not connected to the steam system and use natural gas or propane for heat. Our Residence and Dining department have also experimented with alternative heating technologies, including composting wood chips and solar hot water, at the Modular Student Residences, which had formerly used electric baseboard heating.
Campus cooling is provided by two chillers with a total capacity of 1800 tons. This is 25% LESS capacity than when the college opened in 1971, when there were fewer students and there was significantly less conditioned area. The cooling plant efficiency is near state-of-the-art levels with variable frequency drives on both chillers and variable flow on the main pumps.
A 9 kiloWatt solar photo-voltaic array on the roof of the Library Building was a first step towards developing a renewable energy infrastructure on campus. The student Clean Energy Committee also funded installation of a solar PV array on Mod 302 in student housing.
Several small-scale renewable energy projects have been piloted or installed on campus, including solar hot water panels, a wood chip compost system, and power generating exercise bikes.
The college also performed an extensive study, in 2010, of biomass gasification using locally available logging remainders as fuel to substitute for natural gas in the central boilers. That project did not prove to be feasible.
The college has aggressively pursued energy conservation strategies to reduce operational demands and will continue to do so. Strategies have ranged from simple changes in lighting to more complex changes in our heating practices, and include:
- Low-energy internal and external lighting (both CFL and LED)
- Occupancy sensors in bathrooms, library stacks, the basketball court, offices and classrooms to shut off unnecessary lighting
- Stack economizers on the steam boilers for high-efficiency heat use
- Steam line upgrades and low-pressure, high-efficiency district steam operations
- Heat exchangers on lab air exhausts
- Insulated pool cover
- On-demand and low-flow bathroom fixtures
- High-efficiency, variable drive chillers
- White and green roofs to minimize summer heat gains
As a result of these and other initiatives, the college has reduced total energy (electricity and natural gas) consumption nearly 20% below the quantities used in 2005.