Written by Dwight Bachman
Willimantic, Conn - Eastern Connecticut State University has been named one of the nation's Green Colleges for 2012 by The Princeton Review and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). This is the third year in a row that Eastern has received the distinction.
"The Princeton Review's Guide to 322 Green Colleges: 2012 Edition" profiles 322 institutions of higher education in the United States and three in Canada that demonstrate notable commitments to sustainability in their academic offerings, campus infrastructure, activities and career preparation. The review -- the only free, comprehensive, annually updated guide to the nation's most environmentally responsible "green colleges" -- can be downloaded at www.princetonreview.com/green-guide.aspx and www.centerforgreenschools.org/greenguide.
"We are honored that Eastern was again selected as a Green College by the Princeton Review," said Eastern President Elsa Núñez. "We have a campus-wide commitment to sustainability at Eastern, evidenced by campus conservation programs, the sustainable energy studies curriculum, and our outreach across Connecticut in support of local energy efficiency initiatives. The fact we were included in the guide for the third year in a row tells our students, faculty and staff that their sustained efforts to be environmental stewards are being noticed and rewarded."
The Princeton Review, well known for its education and test-prep services, first created this one-of-a-kind resource for college-bound students in 2010 in collaboration with USGBC, which is best-known for developing the LEED green building certification program.
"College-bound students are increasingly interested in sustainability issues," said Robert Franek, senior vice president of publishing for The Princeton Review. "Among 7,445 college applicants who participated in our spring 2011 'College Hopes & Worries Survey,' nearly 7 out of 10 told us that having information about a school's commitment to the environment would influence their decision to apply to or attend the school," he added.
Examples of Eastern's commitment to sustainability can be found throughout the campus. For instance, the Science Building is LEED Silver Certified for its use of gray water to irrigate and its many other green features. In addition, a geothermal system provides heat and air conditioning to a 62,973-square-foot residence hall, the largest geothermal-heated building in Connecticut.
Under a 10-year Energy Services Agreement (ESA), with UTC Power Corporation, Eastern also has installed a phosphoric acid fuel cell power plant on the west side of Eastern's Science Building that will produce 400 kilowatts of electric power while generating usable waste heat. Eastern will use the energy produced by the fuel cell system to provide a majority of the power required for the Science Building, while maximizing the use of the heat output available from the plant. With effective utilization of the thermal output, overall system efficiencies of up to 90 percent are possible -- more than double that of traditional power sources.
In addition, a lighting system upgrade being installed in the J. Eugene Smith Library will save Connecticut taxpayers $136,061 annually. The control system in the library allows building occupants greater flexibility over lighting -- including occupancy sensors, remote monitoring of lighting and day-lighting strategies -- resulting in a 20 percent reduction in overall electricity consumption. The project is one of the first to be funded by Governor Dannel Malloy's Lead by Example state building energy efficiency program.
The campus also generates 6.2 kilowatts from photovoltaic solar panels to light bus shelters, trash disposal areas and building perimeter lighting. In addition, dual fuel burning capability in Eastern's heating plants allows the University to switch from gas to oil and vice versa based on prices and/or the requirements of its gas utility agreement. Water-saving features also exist on a number of showers, toilets and urinals. Finally, an energy-monitoring system analyzes energy usage for each building, and can automatically reduce electricity usage through preprogrammed initiatives, to reduce peak demand and energy costs.
To prepare Eastern students for jobs in the emerging green economy, Professor Fred Loxsom, endowed chair of Sustainable Energy Studies at Eastern, has worked with his colleagues in the Environmental Earth Science Department to develop an Energy Science track within the Bachelor of Science Environmental Earth Science (EES) major. The track was offered for the first time in the spring 2010 semester. Students complete a core course in earth science as well as a sequence of courses that prepares them to understand energy-related environmental issues and policies and to design, analyze and monitor fossil fuel and renewable energy systems. The department also offers an interdisciplinary minor in the field. In March 2010, Eastern students traveled to Jamaica on a study tour and built a wind turbine for a local school.
Eastern is exporting its commitment to energy conservation beyond its own campus ecosystem through the Institute for Sustainable Energy (ISE). The institute is recognized and widely respected as an invaluable resource for supporting sustainable energy conservation efforts in municipalities and public schools throughout Connecticut and the region.