Oswego State finished 240 geothermal wells to heat and cool the new Science and Engineering Innovation Corridor to reduce fossil-fuel energy costs and support green energy, in an effort to reduce fossil-fuel energy.
President Deborah F. Stanley took a role in achieving green energy by signing the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment. This is a long-term plan to reduce and eventually neutralize greenhouse gas emissions on campus; also known as a carbon footprint. This is an effort joining colleges and universities across the country in a commitment using U.S. Green Building Council silver standards in new campus construction.
The main function of each geothermal well is to operate as a heat exchanger. Pipelines are bundled in groups of 10 to 12 inside each well casing, which is around six inches in diameter. Each pipe is roughly the diameter of a ping-pong ball and 499 feet deep. Each well contains a supply and return line. A fluid mixture of water and 20 percent glycol solution-equivalent to antifreeze-is pumped into the well field and kept at around 55 degrees Fahrenheit. It is then propelled back into the building, extracting heating or cooling energy.
“[At home] I have a natural gas-fired boiler that heats up the water and sends it through all my radiators,” said assistant professor of political science Lisa Glidden in an email. “I have to use natural gas to warm that water before it goes through my house. That increases my carbon footprint, because of the CO2 being emitted from the natural gas, plus whatever CO2 is emitted in digging down to get the natural gas.”
The benefit from using geothermal wells is the reduction in the use of natural gas. The system is used for both heating and cooling. Electricity is used to run the heat pumps and can be generated from green energy such as wind, solar and nuclear power. These are non-fossil-fueled based energies.
“It is going to help us reduce our carbon footprint because we are going to reduce the amount of natural gas that we burn on campus” said assistant professor of inorganic chemistry Casey Raymond.
“I’ve seen numbers everywhere from 40 percent to 60 percent energy reduction once the new science building comes online. We’ll have to wait and see if it’s that good, but it will certainly reduce our carbon footprint because we’re not burning natural gas anymore.”
On Oct. 12, 2011, Oswego State contractors finished drilling the final well. The current project is built to a standard known as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). Working as Oswego State’s liaison with construction companies, Allen Bradberry has contributed a significant amount of time and momentum into the project alongside Raymond.
“When we’re building or renovating, we’re building to LEED standards, so we know that the energy efficiency of these buildings [are] continually reducing our carbon footprint,” Bradberry said. “We met enough points in that system to obtain gold.”
The project is funded by the SUNY Construction Fund. It is based on a 2008-2013 capital campaign for the entire SUNY system. According to Bradberry, the money is allocated from SUNY Albany. In this case it is bonded money and put in place for construction and upgrades. Oswego State’s project consists of $118 million coming from the SUNY system.
According to Bradberry, the construction benefits the local community with regard to jobs being created in the area. LEED requires contractors to purchase their materials in a local radius.
“That radius is farely liberal; it’s within 500 miles. But that’s still not having to [bring materials] across the country, and creating a larger carbon footprint when you haul from a longer distance,” Bradberry said. “[LEED] speaks to all of that when you’re looking at the community and impacting the community.”
He stresses that in the long term, the science corridor is a state-of-the-art building that will benefit the local community and the students who pass through for years to come. The project will also provide long-term jobs for faculty and staff who will support the building. It has the ability to provide science and research labs for the community as well as utilizing educational needs.
The new Science and Engineering Innovation Corridor is due to open in the fall of 2013. With green technology the campus has reduced its carbon footprint in the last two years by 8 percent. According to Raymond, the goal is to reduce the carbon footprint by 20 percent in the year 2015, and he feels that they are in a reasonable position to do that. It is projected that by the 2050 there will be little to no carbon footprint left, yet that estimation is still too far off to be guaranteed.