Energy and Buildings

Colgate University has 160 buildings encompassing over 2.3 million square-feet of floor space.  Providing energy to these buildings consume as much as 80% of the electrical and fuel oil use on campus and is responsible for 46% of the university's gross greenhouse gas emissions.  In 2009, Colgate spent over $4.6 million in energy and water consumption.  For these reasons, how we construct, renovate, and operate our buildings has significant impacts on our energy use, budget, and ecological and carbon footprints, and therefore, must be an essential component of Colgate's Sustainability and Climate Action Plan.

Current practices and recent accomplishments:
Compared to many other colleges and universities, Colgate has relatively low Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions.   Since 1981, Colgate's primary source of heating and domestic hot water comes from the campus 900 Boiler horsepower (BoHP) wood chip boiler which--according to international protocol and the guidelines established by the ACUPCC--does not contribute to the campus carbon footprint. According to Colgate’s baseline greenhouse gas inventory for 2009, the greenhouse gas emissions associated with Colgate's secondary fuels (fuel oil #6 and fuel oil #2) combined for a total 6,232 MTeCO2--a relatively low number for these Scope 1 emissions associated with providing heat and hot water to campus.

Likewise, Colgate's Scope 2 emissions--associated with purchased electricity through its agreement with the Village of Hamilton municipal electric utility--totaled 1,885 MTeCO2 in 2009. These emissions are also low compared with the national and New York averages, because 84% of the electrical mix comes from non-carbon emitting hydroelectric power.

Energy Supply and On-Campus Production
Colgate’s central steam plant heats 37 main campus buildings and provides the heat source for laundry equipment, domestic water heating, dining hall food preparation, laboratory, library, and ice rink humidity control, and building humidification.  The heating plant was constructed in 1907 as a coal-fired plant.  It was converted to heavy fuel oil #6 in 1966.  In 1981, a wood chip burning boiler addition was constructed.  Although the wood-firing capacity at Colgate is only about 40% of the peak cold day campus steam requirement, that capacity is used year round at nearly full load so that Colgate derives 75% to 80% of its annual heating requirement from wood combustion.  The remaining steam is generated with fuel oil #6 in two water tube boilers installed in 1966 and one fire tube boiler installed in 1987.  The two older boilers have exceeded their expected life of 40 years and the newer boiler will reach its expected life of 25 years in 2012.  Additionally, the main heating plant layout, ancillary systems, and equipment have not been upgraded, with the exception of the wood boiler system in 1981, in 45 years.  Many safety, functional, and efficiency issues exist. 

Important decisions regarding Colgate's energy future are imminent regardless of the University's sustainability and climate action planning efforts.  The impending heating plant upgrade presents an opportunity to switch from expensive and carbon intensive heavy fuel oil #6 to a form of energy that is cost effective and low-carbon. 

Due to the technical complexity of the decision making process, high cost, and long range impact of the determining the future of Colgate's energy future, a team of technical experts with whom Colgate has considerable work experience was assembled to undertake the task of conducting heating plant upgrade feasibility study.  The team included:
  • Peterson Guadagnolo Engineers, PC (lead firm)
  • Combustion Designs, Inc. (major equipment)
  • Buck Engineering (environmental and permitting)
  • Klepper, Hahn & Hyatt, PC (structural and civil engineering)
  • Peter Babich (Colgate associate director of facilities and manager of engineering services)
  • Paul Fick (Colgate associate vice president for facilities)
As a result of this work, switching from fuel oil #6 to natural gas (project 4.2.1; described in more detail below) emerged as preferred option from both an emissions and cost-savings perspective.
4.2.1 Fuel Switching: Eliminate Fuel Oil #6
Colgate is currently allowed to burn high sulfur fuel oil #6 in boilers #1, #2, and #3 under a “grandfathered” New York State DEC air permit.  Replacement of these boilers requires the university to reapply for a new air permit and meet current stack discharge cleanliness standards.  These standards do not allow for combustion of high sulfur fuel oil #6.  This forces the university to change to an alternate fuel.  Practical options include fuel oil #2 and (potentially) natural gas. Use of vegetable oil in a smaller “#3 boiler,” although desirable relative to its inherent zero carbon-emission rating, was determined to be not feasible due to the following financial factors:
  • Vegetable oil’s significantly higher cost relative to natural gas.
  • Cost of required preheating prior to use.
  • Cost of required separate tank storage and handling systems.
  • Requirement for replacement of existing boiler #3 at a cost of approximately one million dollars above and beyond the proposed cost of the recommended two new natural gas-fired boilers scenario.
Expansion of wood chip steam generating capacity is deemed not feasible at this time due to first cost, wood chip supply and future cost uncertainties, and potential plant expansion and material handling space limitations. 

While not a certainty at this time, it appears likely that Colgate will have access to natural gas in the near future via an ongoing Village of Hamilton initiative to bring natural gas to the area.  If natural gas turns out not to be available, the wood option should be studied to compare wood chip plant-expansion cost, wood chip-supply chain reliability, site limitations, and inherent material handling logistics issues with the increased cost of utilizing fuel oil #2.

Crude oil is expected to increase in cost by an average of 4.43% per year from $75.52 per barrel in 2010 to $182.35 per barrel in 2035. Natural gas is also predicted to increase in price but at the slower rate of 4.19% per year from $4.47 per MMBtu in 2010 to $11.50 per MMBtu in 2035. Wood chips are the most cost-effective and potentially climate-friendly way to provide energy to campus and will remain the primary source of energy for Colgate under any scenario. 

The table below compares fuel cost options between Colgate's existing system, a natural gas scenario, and a new system that utilizes fuel oil #2.  The natural gas scenario is the preferred option to fuel oil #2 and represents the greatest return on investment (ROI) at 3.77% and a $366,000 savings in annual fuel costs and a significant reduction in overall greenhouse gas emissions. 

Comparison of fuel stock cost options and associated emissions comparing Colgate's existing heating plant configuration vs. natural gas vs. fuel oil #2.

This project would continue operation of the wood boiler as the “lead” steam producer, upgrade of its emissions monitoring and fuel-feed systems, replacement of the existing fuel oil #6 boilers with new boilers capable of firing either fuel oil #2 or natural gas (preferred option), and providing plant operational, metering, and control improvements.

In 2014, two new water tube boilers sized at 60,000 lbs/hr, replace existing fuel oil #6 boilers. [It is important to note that the actual implementation date is contingent on whether natural gas comes to the Village.]

Metrics and Timeline:
In 2014, two new 60,000 lbs/hr natural gas ready boilers are installed in the heating plant.  This saves the university between $275,800 to $366,000 per year in fuel costs and reduces our gross greenhouse gas emissions by 1,258 MTeCO2.

Recommended Action:
The Heating Plant Upgrade Feasibility Study recommended the following:
Continued operation of the wood boiler as “lead” steam generator.
Replace existing boilers #1 and #2 (fuel oil #6 fired) with new boilers capable of firing both natural gas and fuel oil #2 with natural gas a primary fuel and fuel oil #2 as a backup fuel (“Preferred Option”).
Eliminate boiler #3 (fuel oil #6 fired).

It is important to note that Colgate's annual energy costs would increase by $1.5 million and greenhouse gas emissions would increase by 17,000 MTeCO2—to a total of over 31,000 MTeCO2—if natural gas replaced wood and fuel oil in our Central Plant.  For these reasons, relying primarily or entirely upon natural gas was not considered as an option for our energy future.

Fuel oil #2 is used as the primary heating fuel for 486,696 gross square-feet of facilities that do not have access to steam from the Central Plant.  In 2010, Colgate used 174,399 gallons to heat this space which cost $400,000 and emitted 1,752 tons of greenhouse gases (see figure below).  In 2010, we experimented with heating 70 Broad Street (The Loj) with vegetable oil (replacing fuel oil #2).  The experiment failed as we experienced numerous maintenance problems and were never able to keep the burner running consistently.  In the short term, we have few solutions to address the heating needs and greenhouse gas emissions associated with Colgate's auxiliary buildings.  However, the Village of Hamilton appears to be moving forward with bringing natural gas to the area as a viable option.  The figure below illustrates the annual fuel savings and greenhouse gas reductions if Colgate is able to replace fuel oil #2 with natural gas.

Renewable Energy Technologies including Wind Power at Bewkes (4.2.2), Solar Thermal at 100 Broad Street (4.2.3), and Geothermal Heat Exchange at Chapel House (4.2.4)
We also considered emerging and renewable energy technologies as part of a diversified portfolio of greenhouse gas reduction projects. O'Brien & Gere completed a screening-level evaluation of a number of these technologies, including wind energy (Bewkes), solar thermal energy (100 Broad Street), and geothermal heat exchange (Chapel House) projects 4.2.2, 4.2.3, and 4.2.4, respectively. Electrical and thermal loads, site configuration, site location issues and general sizing issues were used in evaluating the viability of each type of technology considered.  The table below provides a snapshot evaluation of these projects.

Potential renewable energy technologies for Colgate's energy future and associated financial and greenhouse gas emissions impacts.

Energy Conservation Measures (ECMs) in Sanford Field House (4.2.5), Olin Hall (4.2.6), and McGregory Hall (4.2.7)
Colgate selected the following facilities to be the focus of a campus energy assessment conducted by engineering firm O'Brien & Gere  in 2010 as a representative sample of the various building types on campus:
  • Central Heating and Cooling Plant
  • Curtis Hall, McGregory Hall, Olin Hall
  • Sanford Field House
The combined floor area of these buildings is 316,000 gross square feet, representing 13% of the campus building portfolio.  While O'Brien & Gere's energy assessment was not comprehensive, it provided Colgate with a snapshot of potential campus-wide mitigation strategies and gave us insight into the potential energy savings we may be able to achieve in the years ahead.  The results of O'Brien and Gere's energy assessment coupled with the expertise of Colgate's Buildings and Grounds staff provide an important source of information, data, and forecasting for this section.

The energy conservation measures highlighted in this section have a low to moderate level of capital investment, a relatively low return on investment (ROI), and will generate energy savings and greenhouse gas emission reductions that can be measured and maintained to demonstrate Colgate’s progress in meeting the goals of the ACUPCC.   

Current practices and recent accomplishments:
While Colgate's energy supply has low carbon intensity, we have also made recent strides in using our energy more efficiently and conservatively.  From FY 2009 to 2010, Colgate reduced its consumption of electricity, fuel oil #6, and fuel oil #2 (see table below).  This saved the university $676,589 in energy costs and reduced our GHG footprint by 1,219 MTeCO2. 

A few of our ongoing efforts that have led to this savings include:
  • Replacement of incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs).  Colgate purchased over 2,000 CFLs from the local Hamilton School Boosters Club.
  • Replacement of all T-12 fluorescent light bulbs with higher efficiency T-8 and T-5 fluorescent bulbs.
  • Replacement of existing fluorescent light fixture ballasts with high efficiency electronic ballasts.
  • Ongoing program to increase the efficiency of the 28 year old wood chip boiler through a combination of state of the art controls and improved operating procedures.  Our wood boiler is currently achieving 79% efficiency (large gas and oil boilers typically exhibit efficiencies from 75 to 80% and typical wood boilers around 70%).
  • Campus underground chilled water distribution piping system was expanded to facilitate future use of chilled water in buildings currently utilizing multiple unitary air conditioning units (window units) for summer cooling, reducing cooling electric energy consumption from approximately 1.2 KW/ton to below 0.75 KW/ton.
  • Ongoing program to identify and replace underground steam and condensate piping which has experienced insulation jacket failure, voiding the insulating value of the original pipe insulation and creating excessive energy losses in the piping systems.
  • Completing installation of a $500,000 utility data acquisition system serving all major campus buildings and providing real time telemetry on steam consumption, domestic water use, electric energy use, and chilled water use.  This system allows us to detect and remedy energy waste and inefficiencies. 
  • Ongoing program utilizing data from the campus energy management and utility data acquisition systems to identify high energy use buildings and systems and reduce energy demand through modification and optimization of control schemes, occupancy control schedules, temperature set back, and outdoor air ventilation systems management.

Project Description:
We considered potential energy conservation measures and efficiency projects in one athletic building (Sanford Field House), one academic/administrative building (McGregory Hall), and one research building (Olin Hall) as a sample of the types of projects we could extrapolate and perform throughout campus.  For Sanford, McGregory, and Olin, we completed an evaluation of several conservation and efficiency projects including:
  • Lighting upgrades, occupancy sensors, and unoccupied hours setback in Sanford Field House.
  • Lighting upgrades, occupancy sensors, unoccupied hours setback, and variable speed drives in Olin Hall.
  • Lighting upgrades, occupancy sensors, and unoccupied hours setback in McGregory Hall.

In 2013, Sanford Field House and Olin Hall energy conservations measures are implemented.
In 2014, McGregory Hall energy conservations measures are implemented.

Metrics and Timeline:
In 2013, Sanford Field House energy conservations measures are implemented saving $25,622 in annual operating costs while reducing our campus carbon footprint by 35 MTeCO2.
Electricity consumption in Sanford Field House is reduced by 593,450 kWh during Fiscal Year 2013 compared to the baseline in 2010.

In 2013, Olin Hall energy conservations measures are implemented saving $34,673 in annual operating costs while reducing our campus carbon footprint by 92 MTeCO2.

Electricity consumption in Olin Hall is reduced by 310,799 kWh during Fiscal Year 2013 compared to the baseline in 2010.

In 2014, McGregory Hall energy conservations measures are implemented saving $21,495 in annual operating costs while reducing our campus carbon footprint by 60 MTeCO2.
Electricity consumption in McGregory Hall is reduced by 155,204 kWh during Fiscal Year 2014 compared to the baseline in 2010.   

Recommended Action:

Sanford Field House

  • The lighting fixtures should be replaced with high output linear fluorescent fixtures. Each new fixture would contain four T-5 lamps.
  • Install occupancy sensors allowing for separate illumination of each tennis court and the running track.
  • Lower the set-point for heating (setback) during unoccupied times. Night Operation cycles the HVAC equipment during unoccupied periods to maintain conditions that reduce energy usage, while protecting the facility from temperature related damage.
Olin Hall
  • Replace current lighting fixtures (T-12) with energy saving fixtures (T-8).
  • Where appropriate, reduce the number of lamps per fixture. In most cases where there are multiple lamps per fixture, one lamp would suffice.
  • Install occupancy sensors in all rooms and corridors.
  • Establish unoccupied hours setback.
  • Install variable speed drives on motors lacking drives and on motors with outdated and/or malfunctioning drives. This will require installing new motors, which is included in the cost estimation.

McGregory Hall
  • Replace current lighting fixtures (T-12) with energy saving fixtures (T-8).
  • Where appropriate, reduce the number of lamps per fixture. In most cases where there are multiple lamps per fixture, one lamp would suffice.
  • Install occupancy sensors in all rooms and corridors.
  • Establish unoccupied hours setback.
Energy conservation measures in select buildings (Sanford Field House, Olin Hall, McGregory Hall) with estimated cost savings and greenhouse gas reductions.

4.2.8 Adaptive Computer Power Management and Data Center Efficiency
IT equipment and data centers represent a significant use of energy at Colgate, both for the electricity needed to power the equipment and for cooling the area occupied by the university's servers.  Over the past few years, Colgate’s ITS department has made strides in reducing energy consumption while continuing to look for further opportunities to maximize the energy efficiency and performance of our individual computers, data centers, and overall IT programs.  Currently, Colgate manages two existing data centers (one in the basement of Case-Geyer and a backup in O’Connor Campus Center.  Additionally, the University owns over 2,400 computers of various types (PCs, Apples, Laptops, and other models).

Current practices and recent accomplishments:
  • Virtualization: Beginning in the spring of 2009, Colgate's ITS team began consolidating Colgate’s 110 servers.  As of spring 2011, 55 servers have been reduced to 8 servers, significantly reducing Colgate’s overall electricity consumption for space cooling and direct operation of the servers.  Approximately 40 additional servers are scheduled for consolidation over the next couple of years.
  • Cloud computing: In 2009, Colgate switched to GoogleApps, reducing the need for ITS to maintain servers and on-campus data centers while taking advantage of Google's larger, more efficient, centrally operated servers.  Through this project, we reduced the number of Exchange servers from eight to two.  This also eliminates the need for backup servers and storage.  Additionally, we reduced our webservices from eight to three.  Colgate's move to cloud computing further saves energy on campus. 
  • EPA ENERGY STAR computers and monitors: ENERGY STAR is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy. The ENERGY STAR mark is the national symbol for energy efficiency, making it easy for consumers and businesses to identify high-quality, energy-efficient products and practices. All new ITS computer and monitor purchases are ENERGY STAR- certified.
  • EPEAT: EPEAT is a procurement tool designed to help institutions such as Colgate evaluate, compare, and select electronic products based upon their environmental attributes as specified in the consensus-based IEEE Standard for the Environmental Assessment of Personal Computer Products (IEEE 1680.1). When practicable, Colgate University prefers to purchase computer products that have achieved EPEAT Silver or EPEAT Gold registration. The EPEAT registration criteria and a database of all registered products are provided at  Several of Colgate's most recent computer purchases have been EPEAT-certified products (e.g., HP 8000 Elite that is EPEAT Gold-qualified).
Project Description:
This project looks at implementing adaptive power management software to further maximize energy conservation associated with Colgate's use of computers on campus.  Adaptive power management software "learns" the behavior of each networked computer on campus and automatically powers down the computer when not in use.  This type of software obviates the need for individual users to shut down or turn on their computers on a daily basis.  Moreover, machines can be programmed to "wake up" in order to push through upgrades/updates at a time that is most convenient for end users.

By 2014, Colgate utilizes adaptive power management software that will automatically power down networked computers when not in use. 

Metrics and Timeline:
By 2014, Colgate implements adaptive power management software that reduces our electricity consumption by 540,000 kWh per year and saves about $17,000 per year. 

Recommended Action:
In FY 2012 and FY 2013, continue piloting different software companies and evaluating results.
Work with end users and stakeholders to inform them of adaptive power management system and encourage behavior change.

Adaptive computer power management with estimated cost savings and greenhouse gas reductions.

4.2.9 Green Building
There presently is no set policy at Colgate for construction projects to meet or exceed the requirements for a USGBC LEED (United States Green Building Council Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) or other green building construction standards. Minimizing the amount of energy each new or renovated building requires through high performance design will help Colgate manage future greenhouse gas emissions. Ensuring sustainable building practices in campus projects, including LEED Certification for all applicable construction is generally more cost-effective and easier to achieve during the initial design and construction than via future retrofit. Going forward, it is recommended that Colgate targets a 30-40% energy performance improvement over ASHRAE 90.1 2007, the minimum standard for a code‐compliant building, for all new construction and major renovation projects.

Other aspects of construction project delivery can be improved through a rigorous building commissioning process that engages the commissioning team early in the design. Engagement of campus facilities operations and maintenance representatives in this process is an especially important part of the process.

Current practices and recent accomplishments:
  • Trudy Fitness Center: The new Trudy Fitness Center is Colgate's first LEED certified building.
  • Lathrop Hall Renovation: this two-phase major renovation is striving for LEED certification.
  • Construction debris: It is Colgate policy that contractors are required to recycle or responsibly remove any construction debris as part of doing work on the Colgate campus.

All new construction and major building renovations strive for LEED Silver standard or equivalent and a 30-40% energy performance improvement over ASHRAE 90.1 2007.