DePauw Doubles Down on Going Green

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The school estimates $12 million in environmental upgrades will result in $750,000 in annual savings. The school estimates $12 million in environmental upgrades will result in $750,000 in annual savings.
GREENCASTLE -

In what President Mark McCoy calls a "bold and thoughtful plan," DePauw University is looking to go green by reducing its carbon footprint, improving energy efficiency and funding more environmentally-friendly residential living space. The school says the Campus Energy Master Plan (CEMP) will result in a "long-term, sustainable campus."

The school estimates $12 million in environmental upgrades, part of the overall $40 million plan, will result in $750,000 in annual savings. Vice President for Finance and Administration Bob Leonard says, while there is “an advantage from a branding and marketing perspective” to green initiatives, the main reason for the effort is “true concern for the environment.”

The largest project involves replacing steam boilers and steam distribution systems with more advanced heat-generating technology. The upgrades will move the university’s heating system, which contributes to 43 percent of the school’s energy usage, from steam to natural gas.

“These new systems will also utilize less electricity, which costs five times as much and produces more greenhouse gases than natural gas,” says Associate Vice President for Facilities Management Warren Whitesell. “Locally, electricity is primarily sourced from coal, which is more harmful to the environment than other energy sources.”

The school is also working on improvements to its cooling water systems, including renovations and replacements to aging equipment and improving distribution. Other projects include LED lighting upgrades throughout campus, converting to low-flow water fixtures in restrooms, and mechanical system controls to make sure the school is using the equipment it has in the most efficient way. The design process is also underway for DePauw’s first array of solar panels.

DePauw is also developing a housing master plan, which also has green influence. Leonard says all of the school’s students live on-campus, so providing “first-class” residential options is a key part of its long-term strategy. The plan includes new residential options for first-year students and enhancements to existing facilities.

Whitesell says sustainability will play a big role in the design phase.

“It is going to be at the forefront as we think about moving into this student housing renovation,” he says. “Every structure we look at, it’s going to be looked at, how do we make this a sustainable structure, the most sustainable that we can make it and tie it directly back to the campus energy work we’re just launching, with the whole goal of how do we make this structure perform the best it can, long-term?”

DePauw began the design phase this spring, and expects to have it complete by October. That will be followed by a construction schedule that could take up to two-and-a-half years. The university is working with several companies on the CEMP, including Quebec-based Ecosystem, which specializes in interconnected energy systems. Leonard says the school is also “blessed” with donors that foot the bill for most of the major projects.

With plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 28 percent and boost the school’s living-learning community, DePauw leaders say the school is well on its way to a sustainable, student-centered future.

Leonard says the plans represent a significant investment.
Whitesell details the timeline for implementing the energy plan.
Whitesell says DePauw is working with multiple companies on the effort.
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