Universities Hire New Coordinators to Direct Green Projects

Sourced from The Daily Item

The two largest higher educational facilities in the Valley both have prominent environmentally friendly projects either established or in the works.

Bucknell and Susquehanna universities recently created sustainability coordinator positions to oversee all of the eco-friendly work being done at the schools.

Bucknell has green roofs, living walls — an indoor wall covered in plants — and a commitment to replace all lights with LEDs, by 2020. Susquehanna is in the midst of constructing a 14-acre solar array that will be the largest university-sponsored solar array in the state when finished in June.

Steve Durfee, Bucknell’s energy manager, said the university has more than 42,000 light fixtures on campus containing more than 80,000 bulbs across three million square feet of buildings. Twenty percent of these are now LEDs, but the remaining 80 percent are traditional fluorescent and incandescent lamps, which they plan to upgrade to the “far superior product” of LED by 2020. It’s an investment of $1.3 million.

The project will save 4.1 million kilowatt hours per year, which is equivalent to more than 4,000 average U.S. homes, Durfee said.

Annual cost savings associated with the resource reductions in fixture maintenance and energy equate to $400,000 per year, just over a three-year return on investment or simple payback period, Durfee said.

It is estimated that more than 23,000 bulbs per year will be diverted from the landfill because the current bulbs burn out more quickly than the longer-lived LEDs.

The LED is one of today’s most energy-efficient and rapidly-developing lighting technologies, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Quality LED light bulbs last longer, are more durable, and offer comparable or better light quality than other types of lighting, such as fluorescent and incandescent, the department said.

Last summer, Durfee said six summer college students helped install 7,500 LEDS. This summer, 12 college students and seven incoming college students will install nearly 18,000 LEDS across 10 buildings.

“All of the students realize that it’s a cool sustainability project that they play a hand in implementing, one with major, tangible implications in terms of the triple bottom line benefits — improved lighting quality for building occupants, financial cost savings and 2.7 million pounds of annual carbon dioxide emissions avoidance,” Durfee said. “And most importantly, this team of student sustainability project workers learn all of these facts and figures where they can then say that they have truly helped make sustainability a reality.”

Living wall

At the Hildreth-Mirza Hall, currently under construction, a wall of vegetation has been installed, which will help with air quality. At Academic West, the roof is constructed with vegetation to improve heat and avoid a heat island.

The term heat island, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency, describes “built-up areas that are hotter than nearby rural areas. ... Heat islands can affect communities by increasing summertime peak energy demand, air conditioning costs, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, heat-related illness and mortality, and water quality.”

Several green roofs and a rain garden at the Bucknell Center for Sustainability & the Environment reduce and recycle stormwater while doubling as research, learning and event spaces. And, in 2015, affiliates of the University’s Renewable Energy Scholars program collaborated to plan, design and build the Living Greenhouse, an experimental space incorporating sustainable technologies including wind and solar power, rainwater collection, sustainable food production and composting. The greenhouse technology also includes anaerobic digestion, or the break down of organic materials, usually in the absence of oxygen, to form natural gas, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The organic materials can be manure, food waste and wastewater sludge.

All new construction at Bucknell is designed in accordance with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards, Durfee said.

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